Authentic faith is a phrase that has found its way into sermons and seminars. Generally defined – it’s faith that’s part of your life 24/7, faith where you take what you believe out of the church doors and into your cubicle, your school and street.
I would say this about few people, but today I went to the funeral of one who exemplified authentic faith.
I went to the funeral of Craig Phillips.
Craig didn’t need sermons or seminars to know what it means to have authentic faith – Craig just lived out – as one person described it today – a Bible-based life.
Raised in a wealthy home on the North Shore of Chicago (complete with butlers and maids), Craig went on to land a successful job in a Fortune 500 company. But he came to realize that money was not the answer to life’s problems. Christ is.
From that time on, Craig’s life became one of helping others –
And one of the areas were Craig helped the most was at the Wayside Cross Mission – something he did until just recently. This wasn’t a once a month trip downtown, or even once a week trip downtown – Craig was at the mission every morning, six days a week, being a friend to men who had hit rock bottom. Even in recent years – in his late eighties – Craig made that daily trip to teach a Bible study called the Master’s Touch to the men at the mission.
Today’s funeral was filled with those men, some who read Scripture, some who gave their testimonies. They all said the same thing, “Craig was always willing to pray with me. Craig was the father I never had. Craig was a friend who really cared.” The funeral home was packed with guys, huge, muscular guys – who were crying at the loss of their friend.
But Craig was more than someone we knew about. On the seventh day of the week, when Craig didn’t do his class at the mission, he came to church.
Often at the close of Ken’s sermons, Craig would stand up, “Pastor, could I just say one thing?” he would ask and then continue to share a verse that went along with Ken’s message. Ken didn’t mind. He loved Craig. Every Thursday he would meet with Craig and some other men for breakfast.
And always, always when Ken came home from church and emptied out his pockets – there with the kleenex and the coins and all the other stuff – would be a crumbled note of encouragement that Craig would’ve written during the service and handed to Ken on the way out.
That was just who Craig was.
Craig planned his own funeral and one of the things he wanted was it to be at a place close enough to the mission so that his beloved men could get there.
We’ll miss you, Craig!
To read more about Craig Phillips – here’s an article that Joe Stowell wrote about him.