Coram Deo. Christians in the 16th century used this simple Latin phrase to capture a profound idea. Coram Deo means “before the face of God.” It says we live before the One who sees all that we are and do. And it says we should act accordingly. Living before the face of God means we walk with integrity under His loving eyes. It means His smile is all that really matters to us.
Many years ago I was the youth minister of a church. I was in over my head, burning out quickly, and in need of time with God. So I arranged a retreat for a few days at a friend’s cabin in the country.
Blasio Kugosi was tired. This schoolteacher from Rwanda was tired of simply sitting back in quiet discouragement over the lack of spiritual fervor in the church and his own spiritual life. So in 1935, Kugosi fasted and prayed for a week. During that time, God transformed him.
David Head, in his book He Sent Leanness, overhauls a traditional public confession of sin found in the Book of Common Prayer and offers a satirical look at our shallow view of sin: “Benevolent and easy-going Parent: We have occasionally had some minor errors of judgment, but they’re not really our fault. Due to forces beyond our control, we have sometimes failed to act in accordance with our own best interests. Under the circumstances, we did the best we could. We are glad to say that we’re doing okay, perhaps even slightly above average. Be your own sweet Self with those who know they are not perfect.” Oh, how we trust in our own righteousness and justify our sinfulness!
When Gandhi wanted to capture the attention of the powerful and prompt them to act against injustice, he went on a hunger strike. A number of years ago when I was confused and heartbroken, I began a 3-day fast. We are physical creatures, and the state of our soul or the hopes of our heart require physical expression.