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Wearing Faith on Your Sleeve

What does it mean to wear my faith on my sleeve? How is it that I live out my faith? (How) do I share my faith in Jesus with others? Sometimes we get uncomfortable when people talk about sharing their faith. Sometimes we fall back on that quote often attributed to Francis of Assisi:

Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words.

I think we can tend to fall back on this quotation as a justification for not saying much. Do we consider what our actions say about our faith, or do we use this as a defense mechanism to suggest that people not bug us with this question?

Dorothee Sölle, a German liberation theologian opens up this question in a real, and challenging way:

Tell me how you think and act politically and I will tell you in which God you believe

The way we act in the world. The things we do. The people we care about. Those who we push aside. Each and every one of these things says something about the God we believe in. We can say we believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We can suggest that we place our faith in Jesus. Yet what do our actions say, and do they indeed speak louder than our words?

And so that got me to thinking. It got me to thinking about two very different ways of wearing your faith on your sleeve.

The first comes from Rob Crosby-Shearer, a Christian community developer in Toronto who has committed to wearing a monk’s habit to see how it changes the way he lives his faith. How will this change his interactions with others? In his own words, Rob shares:

I’ve always been fascinated by people in religious traditions (Christian and otherwise) who wear what they believe ‘on their sleeve’. I love seeing Tibetan Buddhist Monks, The Amish, Orthodox Jews and Devout Muslims – and how they, each in their own way, make clothing a witness to their beliefs.

Rob has chosen a very particular way of living out his faith, and is exploring what it means to wear his faith on his sleeve. You can read more about the experiment here.

The second is hard to ignore. Even if you know nothing about football, you’ve probably heard a bunch of the hype around Tim Tebow. A Christian, and quarterback for the Denver Broncos, Tebow also wears his faith on his sleeve, so to speak.

Actually, it’s written in eye black at every game.

Tebow is vocal about his faith, and about the way his faith informs the way he lives. It’s hard to avoid the spotlight as one of the NFL’s hottest stars, and Tebow uses this opportunity to speak about his faith in the public sphere.

It’s caused a lot of controversy, and folks from all over the religious spectrum have all sorts of opinions.

Love him or hate him, Tebow’s life and witness should call us to ask some deep questions about the ways in which we too witness to the hope that is within us.

  • What do you think about these ways of living out your faith?
  • Do you identify more with one than another?
  • How do you express your faith in daily life?
  • How are you helping young people to wrestle with these questions?

About Andrew Stephens-Rennie

Andrew is an Anglican lay leader who loves pioneering responsive, contextual solutions to the challenge of being church in the 21st Century. He serves as an assistant to the rector for Evangelism and Christian Formation at Christ Church Cathedral Vancouver and is a founding member of the emerging St. Brigids community (www.stbrigid.ca).
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