3–9 March 2019.
One day a good Jewish friend and I were chatting together about our faiths. As we chatted he casually mentioned that “Judaism isn’t a religion of thinking, it’s a religion of doing.” At first his words really surprised me. In our Christian traditions we spend so much time researching, thinking, and trying to understand what we believe and why. The history of Christian theology is literally the history of Christian thought. Now of course in many ways Judaism is much the same. Like in the church, centuries of rabbinic tradition have also focused on researching and arguing the contents of Jewish faith. But the important point my Jewish friend was trying to make is that at the end of all the discussions and debate, Judaism is about actually doing something concrete. Jewish people can’t just think about eating the right foods, think about saying the right prayers, think about being circumcised, or think about obeying the laws of Moses – what’s important is that they actually do it.
That really impressed me. While thinking, understanding, and learning are all vital to our Christian faith, I hope we too will never just stop at that point, but rather actually go the next step and always put our ideas into practice. For example, we can listen to Jesus’s great command in John 13:34 that we should love each other just as he has loved us – we can hear that command, research it, think about it, and seek to understand it. But if in the end we don’t actually go and do it, then we haven’t really managed very much at all.
In Leviticus 22:31, God says: “You must faithfully keep my commands by putting them into practice, for I am the Lord.” Yes it’s great for us to want to follow God, but in the end following involves more than just thinking – it must also involve doing, actually putting our faith into practice. In v. 32 God also stresses that if we don’t actually put our faith into action, we “bring shame” on his holy name. When we tell ourselves and others that we are God’s people but then don’t go and do the things God wants, we not only damage our own reputation as Christians but also damage God’s reputation as well.
Christ’s command to us is clear: we must love one another. I know that’s not always easy. But I hope that with God’s help and support we really will be people who don’t just think about that command but really do put it into practice.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis