“Then they would say to him, “Say now, ‘Shibboleth.'” But he said, “Sibboleth,” for he could not pronounce it correctly.” (Judges 12:6)
I have to confess that my interest in this Scripture was piqued after watching an episode of West Wing aptly named Shibboleth. In the episode, a boatload of Christians were discovered seeking asylum from persecution in America. The President meets one of the refugees in order to test the authenticity of their faith or whether they were just feigning faith to obtain asylum. In a conversation with his staff, the President says he would test the refugee for genuine faith by seeing if they knew of shibboleth – the password in the Bible.
The refugee, after being asked by the President to name the 12 Apostles, said this – “Mr. President, Christianity is not demonstrated through a recitation of facts.
You’re seeking evidence of faith, a wholehearted acceptance of God’s promise for a better world. “For we hold that man is justified by faith alone” is what St. Paul said. “Justified by faith alone.” …Faith is the true shibboleth.”
I was challenged by this episode – can I convince someone in a few minutes of the authenticity of my faith? Would I be able to provide the true shibboleth? It’s easy to know the names of the Apostles, to know all the names of the books of the Bible (and in the correct order), to recite verses by heart. But these are facts not faith. My faith is demonstrated by how I live my life – by my attitudes and actions, by my words and my ways, by how I treat others and by how I love others. Faith is lived, and lived out loud.
“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35)