Doers of the word

8/21/2008
I just found this post that I wrote in the beginning of April 2008. I was writing my Spring Retreat talk and was getting rather feisty. Take it as you will:

James 1:19-27

19(AG) Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person(AH) be quick to hear,(AI) slow to speak,(AJ) slow to anger; 20for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21Therefore(AK) put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with(AL) meekness the implanted word,(AM) which is able to save your souls.

22But be(AN) doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25But the one who looks into the perfect law,(AO) the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts,(AP) he will be blessed in his doing.

26If anyone thinks he is religious(AQ) and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s(AR) religion is worthless. 27Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this:(AS) to visit(AT) orphans and widows in their affliction, and(AU) to keep oneself(AV) unstained from the world.

When I think of Christianity, what comes to mind is not people who do. Instead, I think of philosophers who want to understand God and let their minds be transformed so that they are the perfect Christian. That is foolishness.

I was thinking about how the early church spent time with God and this passage came to mind. I’m betting that the first Christians didn’t spend their time together talking theology or mincing the details of one of the letters they had received. I’m betting their alone time consisted of praying and maybe studying the Scriptures (OT). When they got together, someone might read one of the letters from an apostle and they probably celebrate communion. If I were going to characterize the lives of the early church just from my head, I’d say that they were much more active than christians are today. I love the quote from Don’t Waste Your Life where the Roman Emperor is complaining that not only is there not a single Jew who is a beggar, but the Galileans are taking care of all the poor, not just their own! Why is that not so now!!!?!?!?! We are deceiving ourselves, because we are not doers of the word!

I don’t mean to be so harsh on Christians, but then again I do. How can we even bear that name when we are not acting on what we know?

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Spring Retreat + Thoughts

Earlier in the year I had expressed interest to Bob about speaking at the Spring Retreat. I just got an email from him saying that if I wanted to, I can speak. So I’m spending today praying about it, hopefully following God above all. I know that I personally would love the experience, but I need to take this to Him. I want to be following Jesus, not myself. I want to know that Jesus is worth my life, not just some guy that few billion people are obsessing about.

It really struck me last night in bible study as we were praying how absurd it looks that a bunch of guys are in a room talking what seems like a ghost in the air. It just occurred to me now that that is exactly what it looks like to people who don’t believe that God exists. I find myself in a questioning mood lately as I think about surrendering every bit of my life to Christ. If I am to live entirely for him, I want to be fully convinced that He is real, alive, and worth my life. I don’t want to depend on euphemisms and christianese to convince myself of the validity of Christ’s claims about himself and God. As I look to my future, I know that a life lived for myself would be wasted. I know that God gives me purpose and I feel complete when I’m living for Him. But I need to know it. In my very soul, not just my mind. I think that most of my life, faith has been located in the mind. How much different would I look if what I “believed” was rooted deep into everything that defined me. My deepest desires would be aligned with Christs. Nothing that I would do or say would be outside of the influence of Christ. I barely know what it looks like for anything to be that way. I have always tried to live in emotional unattachment.

Something that Jack said yesterday about his relationship with Erica really got to me. He said that he could never get the reaction out of her that others could. That outrageous smile filled with a deep joy that could only come spontaneously. Love. That’s what I think it is. Not necessarily romantic love, but love none the less. You know the feeling, when you see that good friend and immediately you get so happy that you can be here with them that you rush over and give them a hug with all your might! I love that feeling, when you genuinely care about someone that much. When you can’t think of anything better than spending time with them. That is love. That is what I want with Jesus.