: Thinking Versus Doing

I’m the sort of person who always likes to be doing something. If we’re friends on social media, you know I’m often out hiking or running. Anywhere in nature is OK with me, I love the exercise.

A friend of mine who was raised Christian but became a Buddhist said something to me recently. I think it is wrong. Explaining the difference between how he practices Buddhism versus how he saw Christianity, he said, “I like Buddhism because it’s something that you do. Christianity is just something that you think.”

Now, I don’t fully understand my friend’s experience with Christianity or his practice of Buddhism. But really, what? Christianity as just something that we think? Not something that we do? While I was trying to understand that perspective, it did have some resonance. Much of Christianity seems to emphasize merely saying or believing the right things. Superficially you can do whatever you want, behave like anyone else, as long as you say a certain prayer or recite a certain creed—as if there’s no need for action consistent with your belief. 

Sadly, plenty of Christianity is like that. But then, so is plenty of Buddhism. Yet is that ALL there is to this thing we call faith? Right belief? Words? I don’t think so. 

As I said, I am the sort of person who likes to do things and that inclination is not stymied by Christianity. Rather, I find fulfillment in the rich tradition of actions, practices, and spiritual exercises that are part of following Christ. You might be doing some of these things with special focus right now, because it is Lent, a time when we think about our spiritual condition in preparation for Easter:

  • We pray – Our culture might see “thoughts and prayers” as a lame substitute for action, but I challenge any Buddhist to say that the meditation of prayer is not an action! Prayer aligns us with the Creator of the Universe, so yeah. That’s big.
  • We serve – Following Christ brings us to the door of the sick, the poor, and the marginalized, where our humble actions can alleviate suffering and spread love.
  • We study – An athlete trains in the gym to strengthen their muscles; a believer trains with books, devotions, hymns, and sermons (yes, these are “mere” words) to a positive end—personal growth and spiritual wellness. 
  • We give – Generosity perhaps defines the difference between a doer and a mere thinker. My friend is right about Christianity if all we do is talk about loving others. Giving our love is the action that makes this love real. Open your heart; open your wallet; open your calendar. You’ll find that life happens to you in a bigger, more real way.

 

In the Bible, Jesus tells those who would believe in him, “Follow me.” That’s an action. That’s movement. That’s doing.

Neurologists know that “mood folllows movement.” We don’t effectively think ourselves into a new way of acting. Instead, we have to act our way into a new way of thinking and feeling.

Are you looking for a deeper spiritual feeling? Then move your spiritual muscles, and your mind and your heart will follow. 

Pastor Jason Duley

Lent is a time for spiritual focus and growth.  Galilee encourages you to attend services regularly during Lent (including Holy Thursday and Good Friday), get active in the church community, join a small group, and find other ways to exercise your spiritual muscles. Why? So you can better love God and love your neighbor.

4 Responses

  1. I agree that Christianity requires action. I sadly see that your friend may be having a hard time seeing that.

    There are 2 reasons that action may be difficult to see. One is that many churches, thus Christians, are doing things “behind the scenes”. That’s not bad; it just can make it hard to know. People in the schools who work with the food insecure kids BBP supports know it but I would say it’s not common knowledge and that’s ok. Matthew 6:1 says Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them.

    The other reason the action of Christians may be less visible is that there are Christians who do not act their faith. This is hard because, as mentioned above, people may not show their action publicly. It’s obvious though that there is much to do and more hands can be helpful. There are some who may only pray and not act. Let them be called to action because it is right and it is rewarding in so many ways.

  2. Great answer to your friend’s remark. You hit on all the key points of being a Christian that makes me proud to be one and I agree with what you said. I don’t know much about being a Buddhist but they don’t have our loving God and son, Jesus.

  3. What a fascinating perspective! Let’s hope our actions show that Christianity is not just a thought process, but a way of living that involves acting on those thoughts and beliefs.

  4. I agree with Pastor Jason. I am elderly and pretty much home
    bound but I can still give, participate in a virtual Bible study, watch online church services, be kind to others in the place where live, and not the least of these PRAY for everyone and the world.

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