I haven’t been able to keep up with the weekly routine of writing a reflection on my Bible reading, but, rest assured, I have been reading. And journaling. I do my best to keep up on this blog but I’d hate for it to become like a homework assignment, so sometimes what I write remains hand-written on the pages of a gray moleskine notebook. Sometimes it just doesn’t make it all the way here.
But I have been reading.
I’ve read the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther and Job. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed them all, taken enough lessons away to write five or six of these little posts. But those, I’m afraid, would be long.
This one will not.
The point of this post, which will be my shortest on faith, is simplicity. See, I’m currently working my way through Psalms which, as far as I can tell at the moment, are songs written by King David. You know all about David. He’s the one who took down Goliath, one of the finest rulers of his epoch. He also, despite his character, messed up big time, when he sent Uriah the Hittite off to die so he could take his wife.
The Books of Psalms are a compilation of 150 songs. At the moment, I’ve read 38 of them. I’ve picked up a theme throughout. Of the phrases that I’ve noticed, two have come up the most frequently: Have faith; do good.
So many of us make our religions and faiths and spiritualties so complicated and complex, full of rituals and rites and “the correct way of doing things.” We worry about the ceremony, the setting, the motions – do I clasp my hands when I pray? Close my eyes? Kneel? Am I taking communion correctly? Am I dressed well enough to go to church? Am I addressing God too formally? Not formal enough?
It seems, to me, much of that misses the point.
The point being: Have faith. Do good.
“Trust in the Lord,” David writes in Psalm 37, “and do good.”
“Turn from evil,” he later writes, “and do good.”
On Easter Sunday, I spent the night with my good friend Jordan Cheng, one of the finest individuals I know and my faith therapist of sorts. We were talking about salvation – does it come from faith or works?
My answer, essentially, was yes.
Some believe we are saved exclusively by faith and grace; others by works. My answer, as it seems David’s advice is to, simply, have faith, do good. It’s not one or the other, for the two, in my opinion, work in harmony.
Faith makes us want to do good. Doing good refreshes our faith. Repeat the cycle. Live a good life.
“Keep the main thing,” as my former pastor, Caleb Anderson, used to repeat, almost like a mantra, “the main thing.”
Have faith. Do good. Simple.
Sometimes simple is best. My old math teachers used the acronym K.I.S.S. when solving problems: Keep it simple stupid.
So my reflection, my takeaway, this week, is a little twist on that. Have faith in God. Use that faith to do good, “for the Lord,” David writes, “loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones.”
Pray how you want. Express your faith how you want. Let that faith encourage you, push you, inspire you to do good.
Keep it simple.