Choose your own path
The Rev. Duke Tufty, pastor of Unity Temple on the Plaza, Kansas City, Mo.: I don’t know. That is something you and only you can decide. Do you feel as though your actions are enough? If so, they are. If not, they aren’t.
Many religions are full to the brim with do’s and don’ts that usurp people’s right to choose what is best for them. I have heard too many preachers standing in public atop their soapbox, shouting out orders for me to follow. The Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule and perhaps a few other statements should be followed whether one is religious or not.
But all the other doctrines and dogma should be adhered to only if a person really feels good in his or her heart about doing them. Other than law enforcers, no other person has been given authority over you to dictate what you think and feel. No matter what robes and stoles one might wear, what golden staff one might carry or lofty perch one might preach from, that person is no closer to God than you and knows less how you should live your individual life than you do.
God is Spirit. The very essence of your being. Spirit is life force, consciousness, love and wisdom, all of which are as present in you as anyone else. Turn within for the personal direction you seek and you will find it.
Integrate the two
The Rev. Justin Hoye, pastor of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Kansas City, North: There are many indicators in Scripture that actions, over words, provide a stronger expression of our faith. In one striking passage, Jesus Christ asserts that not everyone who says to him, “‘Lord, lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will” of God the Father. (Matthew 7:21)
At the same time, words are not a negligible component, an accessory that can fall away as actions increase. Just as we long to hear “I love you,” and not simply experience this truth by acts of love, so it is important that actions do not completely supplant the articulation of faith. Actions and words are crucial if our faith is to be understood as integrated and find the fullest expression.
Perhaps the strongest indicator that we yearn for a full expression of the two — words and actions — is in the very act of the Incarnation: the Word becoming flesh. For a Christian the most gracious sign of God’s love for us is not simply the spoken word, but the Word moving in space and time, experiencing our sorrows and joys, including death and the promises of new life. Our greatest joy is the reality of the Word taking flesh in history. In the same vein, our world hungers for an expression of faith that is the integration of actions and words.
Send your questions for our panel of religion columnists to Helen Gray at The Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64108. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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