Tuesday, August 9, 2016

What Matters

Today’s liturgy for Morning Prayer in Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals described the life of Franz Jagerstatter, of Austria, who was the sole conscientious objector in his village to the annexation of Austria to Germany under Hitler. Jagerstatter was not part of any resistance movement, just an individual whose Christian faith could not be reconciled with fighting for Hitler’s army. Religious leaders in his village encouraged him to conform and serve, but Jagerstatter maintained his faith, and was imprisoned and beheaded for it.

Jagerstatter was simply a person who loved God and chose to live (and die) guided by that love. That we know of him at all, because he was a peasant laborer, is surprising. Through the centuries, there are those who choose the unpopular way of Jesus, choosing to live lives motivated by love, by powerlessness, by foregoing the values of the culture and instead surrendering to the downward mobility of the gospel message. Because they understand that real power comes through weakness and that strength comes through surrender to the way of Jesus, they are the unseen, unspectacular yeast that works its way through the dough and rises, despite efforts to suppress them by those who put their faith in power, influence and riches.

People who know what matters do not have to shout or threaten others to be heard. A friend once told me that silence speaks louder than criticism, name-calling and moralistic diatribes. What matters is to live outwardly congruent with what is in one’s heart. True authenticity is not motivated by what others think about you; it is living an undivided, singly-focused life. The courage to be faithful and authentic, even when authenticity and faithfulness is unpopular and misunderstood, will stand the test of time, long after power, influence and riches fall away.

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