For 20 years, I have had the privilege of working in vocational ministry. I have meet saints of the church who inspire and change the world. I have seen ministries lead to healings and hope. I have celebrated holy moments like baptisms, births, weddings and funerals. I have seen the church live into her best self, time and time again.

Yet, I’ve also seen the other side. I’ve seen moments where we have functioned out of our ego and head too much. Those moments of divisiveness in which ‘my way’ is the goal; the moments of judgment that simply rubs salt in others wounds; moments of hypocrisy where we proclaim a way that we follow of love, compassion, forgiveness and grace to simply miss the boat in actual practice.

I learned that it is hard to know how someone lives based on what they say they believe. A mind-oriented faith seldom connects heart to heart. We can know the dogmas to believe and the right words to say, but the ultimate test of faith is realized in our actual lives—our actions.

The book of James has a sobering statement about faith. Read James 2:14-26. There is this line that strikes me as a summary of the whole– Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. These deeds are the outgrowth of a faith that is rooted in love, deep within the heart. It is a faith that is alive in every moment of every day. It compels us to seek to live as Christ, though never perfectly. It is the faith that St. Francis of Assisi invited with the infamous phrase, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” Your actions are the true marker of your faith…may you bless abundantly those around you!