Do actions match our faith?

?Washington is done for the year?it is off to its earliest start?at doing nothing.? ?Bob Schieffer, ?Face the Nation,? Feb. 23.

As I watched last Sunday?s news program, I realized the recent passage of the Farm Bill was a fluke amid a sea of political charges and countercharges.

Though the bill had its flaws, the good news was agriculture has the assurance of a safety net that will mitigate the risk farmers take every day of the year to produce this nation?s food supply.

It saddens me to see the dysfunction continuing. Though our form of democracy has been a good model for the rest of the undeveloped world?an oppressed world that desires to live in relative freedom, free from fear of a corrupt, tyrannical government?it is floundering while extremists on both sides remain unmoved in their demands, refusing to negotiate a compromise that both sides can live with.

Rather than repeat worn out cliches that have little meaning left, I am taking a step back to look at this from a personal, local perspective. It is easier to get a handle on the little picture than trying to wrestle with the complexities of a national or global one.

If national statistics are any indication of local numbers, roughly 75.2 percent of the population claim to be Christian (Protestant and Catholic) with 4.4 percent affiliating with other religions, according This number does not reveal the percentages of those who profess Christianity but are not practicing it.

With these high numbers, one might assume those who align themselves with a particular brand of Christianity would also integrate and practice their faith as they go about the business of their lives. I have concluded this is not true.

Even accounting for the diversity of denominational belief and practice, there still remains a commonality between denominations within the greater church body. The Lord?s Prayer, or the 23rd Psalm, is an example of that commonality.

My focus remains on people of my generation, including me, who continue to practice our faith. Are we living out our faith by the way we live, or are we saying one thing and behaving in another way?

We pray, ?Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.? Do we live out that prayer? The temptation I have is to want to get even. I want them to feel the deep sense of loss that I feel when they have wronged me. I want them to suffer even more than I have.

There is the gut-level feeling of power and revenge?the satisfaction that someone is receiving the punishment due them in return for the pain and anguish they dished out.

It is easy to hold a deep grudge. It is much more difficult to release the matter to God and let it go. But it is a better way to live.

By letting go, the perpetrator no longer has power over my life. Anger, bitterness, frustration over a relationship gone badly melts away, replaced with a sense of peace that God is in control and we know He will see us through the hard times.

That said, I still need to revisit this lesson from time to time. As a typical human being, I?m long on remembering wrongs done against me, but short on remembering wrongs I have committed and the huge amount of grace God has given on my behalf.

Scripture says, ?Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each one of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.? (Phil. 2:3-4, NASB).

It is called genuine humility. It?s a fascinating concept, thinking about the interests of others, placing them on a higher plane of respect than we think of ourselves, and all the while not neglecting to care for ourselves.

Can you imagine a farm auction with two farmers bidding against each other, and both are telling the auctioneer the other guy deserves to get the winning bid? Not to mention, when the bidding is over, parting as friends?

Can you imagine two members of Congress from opposite political parties trying to work together for the good of not only their constituents, but also considering their opponent?s interests as they hammer out a workable agreement?

Where in Scripture is the exception to the way of living according to God?s will? The short answer is, there is no exception.

Like me, our community, as well as our nation, needs to revisit this lesson once again.

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