Doers of the word

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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