My friend Andrew the Protester believes things. Andrew goes to protests where he gets pepper-sprayed, and he does it because he believes in being a voice of change. My Republican friends get frustrated when I paint Andrew as a hero, but I like Andrew because he actually believes things that cost him something. Even if I disagree with Andrew, I love that he is willing to sacrifice for what he believes. And I love that his beliefs are about social causes.
Andrew says it is not enough to be politically active. He says legislation will never save the world. On saturday mornings, Andrew feeds the homeless. He sets up a makeshift kitchen on a sidewalk and makes breakfast for people who live on the street. He serves coffee and sits with his homeless friends and talks and laughs, and if they want to pray he will pray with them. He’s a flaming liberal, really. The thing about it is, though, Andrew believes this is what Jesus wants him to do. Andrew does not believe in empty passion.
All great Christian leaders are simple thinkers. Andrew doesn’t cloak his altruism within a trickle-down economic theory that allows him to spend fifty dollars on a round of golf to feed the economy and provide jobs for the poor. He actually believes that when Jesus says feed the poor, He means you should do this directly.
Andrew is the one who taught me that what I believe is not what I say I believe; what I believe is what I do.
Tony asked me one time if there was anything I would die for. I had to think about it for a long time, even after thinking about it for a couple of days, I had a short list. In the end there weren’t very many principles I would die for. I would die for the gospel because I think it is the only revolutionary idea known to man. I would die for Penny, for Laura and Tony. I would die for Rick. Andrew would say that dying for something is easy because it is associated with glory. Living for something, Andrew would say, is the hard thing. Living for something extends beyond fashion, glory, or recognition. We live for something we believe, Andrew would say.
If Andrew the Protester is right, if I live what I believe, then I don’t believe very many noble things. My life testifies that the first thing I believe is that I am the most important person in the world. My life testifies to this because I care more about my food and shelter and happiness than about anybody else.
I am learning to believe better things. I am learning to believe that other people exist, that fashion is not truth; rather, Jesus is the most important figure in history, and the gospel is the most powerful force in the universe. I am learning not to be passionate about empty things, but to cultivate passion for justice, grace and truth, and communicate the idea that Jesus likes people and even loves them.