Graffiti isn't hard to find. We see it on the boxcars that roll
through our countryside. Names and slogans are often plastered on
highway overpasses and scrawled on the sides of city buildings.
It also feels as though the beliefs we hold in deepest reverence
are often being covered with graffiti. Several years back, the book
The Da Vinci Code smeared its ugly graffiti of a false
faith worldwide. Still later, a writer/director began promoting a
"documentary" claiming to have found burial boxes that once held
the bones of Christ and his family.
The film promoters ignored the fact that Israel's Antiquities
Authority had already dismissed their find. Almost every week,
grocery store tabloids claim some ridiculous new headline related
to the Christian faith.
Our faith is in no danger of being proved false by lies
masquerading as truth. The problem is that this form of graffiti
makes it far more difficult for people who long for God to discover
his presence when it is buried beneath false images.
Religious graffiti obscures the power, strength and beauty of a
life of faith. Like medieval metaphysical arguments, it has nothing
to do with the kind of faith capable of transforming lives from
The name "Christian" should bring to mind people capable of
making sacrifices out of love, a people who honor God and care for
the least among us. Images promoted in public frequently range from
televangelists promising a prayer cloth and prosperity to anyone
sending in $10 to a relatively small number of church leaders who
live false lives.
The popular media promotes caricatures of faith, designed to
make Christians of all faith traditions look foolish. As a result,
it has become socially acceptable to portray Christians as
two-faced and out of touch with reality, or worse.
Our culture often overlooks the truth that the most powerful
forces in our lives are invisible. The power of love conquers hate.
Love bears hardships and changes who we are and what we become.
Yet, we cannot "make" ourselves love someone else. Love is a
gift from God and anyone who has experienced this gift knows that
it grows in proportion to how much it is given away.
Prayer is the lifeblood of our relationship with God. It affects
what happens in our lives and in the lives of others. No one who
prays remains unchanged by prayer. It opens a channel to forces far
greater than all the "positive thinking" we can try to manufacture
in our own minds.
British writer Freya Madeline Stark said, "There can be no
happiness if the things we believe in are different from the things
we do." We can't change how the world chooses to view us or what
others choose to believe about us. We can only become a people so
steeped in prayer and love that no one will be able to deny the
living Presence within us.