Why do we pray for others? Why do we go out into Athens County or invite Athens County to come to us? Are we doing it for ourselves, or are we acting in faith? These seem like simple questions, but they can be more complicated than they appear, for it is easy to put on the airs of holiness and fool those who are not discerning or those who want to be fooled. If you pray because you think you are supposed to, you are doing it for the wrong reason. If you serve others because you think that is what you are supposed to, your heart is misplaced. Make no mistake: We are supposed to do these things. But it is not passionless paint-by-numbers living. We are not following a formula set by God. These actions are only holy if we accept the Great Commandment and live it.
We often interact with people who are not citizens of God’s Kingdom. Many of these people come to us or invite us with some trepidation. When they tell us that we have acted in a way that changes their view on Christianity, it is because of our holiness. Through us, God found an opening to enter. When we show them the true nature of the Kingdom and not an image perverted by politicians, opportunists, and false prophets, we are able to do so because of our holiness. We show them not judgment or a sense of superiority but outreach, acceptance, and love. In so doing, we fulfill that greatest Commandment.
Often, our greatest challenge is not those who deny the existence of God but those who do harm in His name.They distort what the Kingdom looks like to those who live outside of it. But in the end, truth conquers deceit and light defeats shadow. If we are a true holy community, it radiates from us. People can tell from the first moment they meet us or come onto our land. We tear off countenances of falsehood and shatter illusions. Jesus walks in our woods. We bring the Truth- with a capital “T”- to people who know it and people who seek it. We could not hide it if we tried. The very air feels different in a holy community.