Faces on Faith: Persons of integrity
September 12, 2018


Recently as I was driving down Summerlin Road I found myself following a large tanker truck. Somewhere along the line it must have needed mechanical attention because it had mud flaps over its wheels that said, "Integrity Tank Repair." And as I looked more closely I realized the letter 'T' in the word "Integrity" was in the shape of a cross. Whoever owned "Integrity Tank Repair" is, apparently, a Christian.

If I'm honest, I must say I would be a bit hesitant make specifically Christian symbols a part of the logo for a business I might own. I would even hesitate to put such a symbol, whether it be a cross or a fish or something else, on my car bumper. It's just not my style. But if those mud flaps with their cross and the name "Integrity Tank Repair" truly reflect how that owner conducts business, then he or she understands a fundamental truth. For what we do, all that we do, must reflect what we believe. Following Jesus shouldn't be just about a set of doctrines; Christianity isn't just about what I do on Sunday, but rather what I do on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and all the rest of the week. Christian faith (and I would argue any religious set of beliefs) should infuse all that we do. Or said another way we must "walk the talk." We must be people of integrity.

To be clear, the word integrity, Webster tells us, means "a firm adherence to a code of . . . moral . . . . values." It is synonymous with the word "honesty"-one who has integrity, is one who is honest, transparent, consistent. What you see is what you get.

For the Christian (and other people of faith as well) it means not just reciting the words of a creed, or affirming belief in certain dogmas-it means practicing what you preach. The person of integrity talks about the importance of love-but also, even more importantly, is loving in the way he or she treats others. Real religion, honest religion, religion practiced by those who are filled with integrity is realized in how one treats ones neighbors, most especially the marginalized, the oppressed. Don't just tell me God is love, show me! Show me God's love in and through your actions!

This matter of integrity is crucial. One recent poll found that 45% of the people surveyed believe "Most Christians are hypocrites." 45%! And this is nothing new. A poll conducted ten years ago by the respected Barna Group, said that 72% of unchurched adults in the United States, agreed with the statement The church is full of hypocrites." 72%. Roughly three out of four! (;

I don't know anything about the folks who run Integrity Tank Repair, but I will give them the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they conduct their business in an honest and upright fashion, that folks get what they are promised, that service is done promptly, politely, that the cross on the mud flaps isn't just for show, but is a symbol of what they believe and how they behave. My hope, my prayer, is that we too will be people of integrity, that we will, indeed, walk the talk.

The Rev. Dr. John H. Danner is the senior pastor at Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ.


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