A phenomenon of TV programming over the last couple of decades has been the emergence of “procedural dramas.” These deal with law enforcement topics such as forensic science, autopsies, evidence gathering, interrogations, and various crime-solving strategies. Basically, complex crimes being solved within a one-hour time slot (including commercials) or occasionally, a couple of hours if the show is “continued.”
My wife and I have enjoyed watching some of these. It’s so reassuring to know that perpetrators of dastardly deeds (known in police jargon as “perps”) can be identified, apprehended, and given their just due in an amazingly short time. Like in real life, right? Uh, not exactly.
But the point is, in TV fantasy and in real life, crimes are solved by seeking out and using many types of clues, ranging from fingerprints to DNA to the most subtle kinds of evidence. These all have been left behind in some manner, a kind of trail for detectives to follow. Like the breadcrumbs Hansel and Gretel scattered hopefully so they could find their way back out of the dark forest.
Most of us will never be involved in heinous crimes of any sort. We won’t need forensic experts or crime scene investigation units poking around. But in a sense, every day we’re leaving “evidence.” The kind of evidence that reveals how we lived our lives, our character and values, and the impact we had on people we encountered, as well as the world around us.
What does this evidence look like? It could include tangible things like our material possessions, bank statements, the ways we spend much of our time, and the people we associate with. It also includes less touchy-feely things like our reputations and the impressions we make on the people we work with and live with, especially in our own homes.
For followers of Jesus Christ, the greatest evidence we can leave behind is our faith – how it has been manifested through our behavior. In fact, Hebrews 11:1 declares, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (NKJV). That single sentence is worth an in-depth discussion on its own, but if faith is trusting in “evidence of things not seen,” then it stands to reason that our actions, words, even our thoughts should reflect this kind of faith.
But evidence in our lives – who we are, what we believe, and the things we value most – also should be observable. Writing to his young protégé, Timothy, the apostle Paul exhorted him to “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the worth of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
It’s often been said of believers, “If you were put on trial for your faith, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Some people can put on an effective act in certain settings, knowing the right things to say to sound “holy.” But I think the adage hits the mark in stating, “If your walk doesn’t equal your talk, the less said the better.” There’s no place for the disclaimer, “Do as I say, not as I do.”
This isn’t a matter of hyper-legalism, fastidiously following religious rituals and regulations, but rather consistently reflecting and manifesting the presence and power of God in our lives. This is why Paul, writing to Christ followers in ancient Rome, said, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to Him as instruments of righteousness” (Romans 6:12-13).
When we’re in love – with our spouse or partner; our work; our favorite sports team; our possessions, or even a special hobby – it’s bound to be evident in our actions, our words, and our thinking. Genuine love for God should be the same, to an even greater degree since being “born again,” as Jesus described in John 3:3-8, means He has given us new life. How can the presence of God’s Spirit in us be hidden or concealed?
Suppose a TV reality show were produced to investigate reports of people who had experienced spiritual rebirth or renewal, and we were the subjects being studied one week. I wonder what “clues” they might uncover, if they would find enough evidence in our lives to confirm the reports?
* * *
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is email@example.com.