Being useful by being well

Have you ever come across that Christian poster that says something like, “If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” We’ve been going through the book of Revelation as a church lately, and as Jesus’ addresses each of the seven churches, he says, “I know your deeds…” He knows the good, he knows the bad, and he has words to say to them about both.

What are my deeds? I’m a great one for lists; about a week after we moved here I made a list headed “Potential New Friends.” I have lists of food shopping, life goals, things I need to do today, this week, this year, ideas for articles and blog posts, books I want to read, areas of the house that need sorting (the Tupperware cupboard is ALWAYS on this list. It sits there sadly, knowing it will never have a nice tick by it). I haven’t however listed my deeds, because such a list would not have many items.

This is maybe where you might expect me to spiral off into self-flagellation and despair, but I am becoming more and more guilt-free in my life with God. The guilt never made me do anything heroic and after a while I started thinking it wasn’t something God needed me to carry around.

This sermon series though did start niggling at me a bit and those questions came back. Am I going to get to the end of my life and have to explain to God why I missed the point so badly? What do I do for the poor, for the lost, for the broken? Is there anything to show for this belief I profess?

And then I read this from the wonderful Henri Nouwen and I could have cried with relief. It is all okay. These words were a gift to me, and I hope they will be a gift to you too:

We serve the world by being spiritually well. The first question is not, “How much do we do?” or “How many people do we help out?” but “Are we interiorly at peace?” The distinction between contemplation and action can be misleading. Jesus’ actions flowed from his interior communion with God. His presence was healing, and it changed the world. In a sense he didn’t do anything! “Everyone who touchéd him was healed.”

(Sabbatical Journey, p.127)