Leighton in talking about his experience in Australia at Liquid 2005 use the term “practitioner” a couple of times. It’s not a term we use here very often – at least not in the context of the Christian faith so I had to ask for an explanation. The word has always had a particular meaning for me – I am a general dental practitioner. I practice – I do what I am trained to do.
Just thinking of this word in the context of my Christian faith puts an unusual spin on it. I guess being a practitioner would mean doing my faith in an active sort of way. Practice of my profession does not mean just studying about it, thinking about it or watching other people do it. If I’m practicing, I am by definition doing. It is an active word.
I’m not sure just how the faith practitioners in the world down under put their faith into action. I guess there would be as many ways as there are people. It would be good to hear some of their stories.
I find myself wanting to claim to count myself as one of the practitioners but am not sure if I would dare claim the title. So many times I sit and look. I observe but don’t get involved. I am a watcher not a doer. And I know this is not what I am called to. All my inward examination, all my study, all my knowledge of what should be done will not make me a practitioner unless some action is taking place.
I could be content to say that my faith has been lived out in what I have already done. And it has. I’ve served God as a missionary and I have continued to look on what I do as a means of serving God through my interactions with people; caring for my patients, caring for my children, caring for my family. But in many ways, I have just begun to know God. He keeps making claims on the part of me that would like to sit back and watch; the part that would like to ignore him prompting me to take specific action, especially when the action involves me apologizing for hurt I have caused. But if I really want to go to deeper levels of knowing God I realize that I don’t have much choice. He calls me to practice – to actively live my faith. And it is hard to do that in everyday living where we lash out at people in anger or feel justified in treating others as unworthy of our time and care.
Right now this isn’t just theoretical talk. I have caused hurt to a person. I treated him with arrogance and did not care. I judged him and didn’t even know him. Jesus wouldn’t have done that. I would like the situation to just fade away and I could let it. I don’t have to talk to him ever again. But to do that would be a deliberate act of denying Christ – especially since He was the one that pointed this out to me. It is always easy for me to justify what I did and said and focus on the wrong he did – but what I really must do is find a way to apologize.