I like Seattle. It is home to some of my favorite coffee shops, favorite bookstores, favorite ice cream, favorite scenery, favorite buildings, favorite people, favorite chocolate, favorite weather, among other things.
In this city, I can usually share about my faith in a nonchalant manner, and receive neither an overtly negative nor positive response. This usually results because someone, (who sits, or stands across or beside me as we wait for some function/event, or stand in line, or share a coffee shop table, or wait for the bus) in doing their small talk duties, will ask about my background. After I respond, they nod and say, oh, that’s nice! and perhaps inquire with a benign, follow-up question or two.
I spoke with a woman the other night. A very intelligent, congenial, beautiful, older woman. I remember her green eyes and dyed red hair, but I don’t know even know her name. She sat next to me and began to talk animatedly, as we anticipated the introduction of an admired philosopher, underneath the starry ceiling of a temple.
She began with chit-chat topics, and eventually got to the infamous “what do you do.”
Most people do not expect from the likes of me the kind of answer I give them. MDiv student, yadayada, books, etc. Oh, what will you do with that? they ask. Be a nun? (Okay, actually, that’s not fair. I’ve only gotten that response a couple times. But still.)
Instead, this woman was very attentive and wide-eyed as I explained my aspirations, and she was full of encouraging words as she proceeded to relate to me how her parents had been missionaries in Japan for over 40 years, but she and her late husband were not particularly “religious.” She remarked that in her life observations, it did not seem to matter what kind of “faith” someone claimed to have; no matter what their religious alliance is, that faith has been rendered null and void unless that person’s life reflected change. Claiming a faith means nothing unless others can see what tangible difference it makes in your life.
Quite an accurate and interesting observation, from someone who claims no faith. I thought she was just repeating James, you know. But the manner and content of her communication did not relay such knowledge. She was earnest with that statement, and she hit the nail on the head.
Then I got to thinking…perhaps…this is WHY it’s so easy to be open with one’s faith around here. Nobody cares, because it’s mostly just talk. So, who gives a fig about what you believe? It’s fine to be “spiritual” anyway you like….right, ’cause everybody knows you won’t truly act on it. Laziness and apathy. Apathy and dishonesty. Hypocrisy. Ouch. In the end, apathy becomes our greatest enemy.
Something is very wrong with that picture, people. Especially if you claim to know, love, and follow Jesus, yes? Do others see that?
…yes? How do you know?
…no? Well, what in the world are you going to do about it?
I hope you act prayerfully. If you don’t want to act, I suggest you have a good, long conversation with God about why.
And let’s keep this kind of stagnate-producing-apathy at bay.