What Will Your Legacy Be?
by Debbie Holloway
One of the most spiritually provocative songs I’ve ever heard is called War Sweater by the band Wakey!Wakey!.
“New York is dangerous, littered with thieves
We’ve no morals here, we just do as we please…”
…sings the narrator in the opening lines. He continues:
“But I don’t want to go home where they all stare at me
‘Cause I’m tattooed and fired up and drunk and obscene.”
I’m sure many of us can picture a similar “wayward” family member or friend. But why exactly does this narrator feel so uncomfortable with this scrutiny? He explains in the following chorus:
“You wear your religion like a War Sweater
You ask for the truth, but you know you could do so much better
And you sat on your fences, and you’ve screamed “no retreat!”
…So what will your legacy be?”
Every time the singer repeats that phrase, “what will your legacy be?” I get knots in my stomach. Because I know my actions and my words will create whatever legacy I leave behind. Reputations are not created by beliefs – rather they come about by observed behavior. No one will remember me simply for getting all my doctrine right or wrong.
They will remember, though, if I wear my religion like a War Sweater. If I thrash my faith about like a flag and scream in the faces of unbelievers. Sadly, many Christians have created such legacies for themselves. Emperor Constantine created the legacy of Christianity’s ties to the government. The Crusaders connected Christianity with war. Even today there are self-professing Christians who stand on street corners and picket funerals, wearing their religion like a War Sweater.
But my faith, my religion, informs me of something better. My religion tells me to do what the Word says, not merely listen to it (>James 1:22). My religion does not allow me to sit on a pedestal and judge; it says to to serve one another in love (>Galatians 5:13). My religion tells me (>Psalms 149:4) that salvation cannot come through pride. My religion does not stand for violently demanding all people bow to my standards; rather, it tells me that, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone" (>Romans 12:18).
So take a look at the words you speak, at the people you mock, at the bumper stickers adorning your car.
Are you wearing your religion like a War Sweater?
What will your legacy be?
Intersecting Faith and Life: When confronted with a hard situation today, see how you can leave a legacy of Christ’s love.