As I was praying with Sacred Space this morning, I reflected on what would be the acid test for a Christian. Would an objective observer conclude from the way I live my life that God exists? Or would such an observer conclude that my "espoused values" were Christian but that my "values in action" reflected the prevailing values and attitudes of my culture? Am I a thoroughly acculturated 21st century American who espouses Christian values or am I a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ who lives a life "in but not of" this 21st century world? This is a constant question for anyone, regardless of religious belief or engagement. The terms--"espoused values" and "values in action"--are from the work of Chris Argyris, noted organizational behaviorist. He uses these concepts to analyze the very human trait of saying one thing (usually what we think people want or need to hear) and then doing another (usually what we want or need.) We have all heard the same thoughts expressed in different ways:
- Values are not taught; they're taught.
- "If I had ever met a Christian, I might be one." Ghandi
- "Children pay more attention to what parents do, not what they say." Most any parent.
- "The good that I will, I do not. The evil that I do not will, that is what I do." St. Paul