Tuesday, November 10, 2015

What have we become?

James 2: 14-26 from The Message

14-17 Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?
18 I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.”
Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.
19-20 Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That’s just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do them? Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands?
21-24 Wasn’t our ancestor Abraham “made right with God by works” when he placed his son Isaac on the sacrificial altar? Isn’t it obvious that faith and works are yoked partners, that faith expresses itself in works? That the works are “works of faith”? The full meaning of “believe” in the Scripture sentence, “Abraham believed God and was set right with God,” includes his action. It’s that mesh of believing and acting that got Abraham named “God’s friend.” Is it not evident that a person is made right with God not by a barren faith but by faith fruitful in works?
25-26 The same with Rahab, the Jericho harlot. Wasn’t her action in hiding God’s spies and helping them escape—that seamless unity of believing and doing—what counted with God? The very moment you separate body and spirit, you end up with a corpse. Separate faith and works and you get the same thing: a corpse.

I was once asked a very pointed question: "If you Christians always fight against each other, what else do you have time for?"

This was from an unsaved friend who was kind enough to give me a birds eye view of what Christians have become. A friend who admitted to not wanting to believe because most of the Christians he knew put down other Christians and cursed like sailors....but hid behind the blanket of grace to be able to say and do as they please.

This is what we look like to outsiders.

I find myself bombarded with the reminder of this question every day here lately. Christians will use social media platforms to berate and tear down other Christians. Recently I came across a quote that said,

We tell women to be stronger, yet wish they would be quiet.

I have often talked to my small group girls about purpose and faith. Actually LIVING out faith, not just mooching off grace. I can love Jesus till the cows come home, but the Bible clearly states that zero action is intolerable to God. I need to do more than love, I need to live it out.

I am inspired by the bold faith of some of the youth I have had the pleasure to meet. They will tell anybody who will listen (and even those who won't) about the gospel. Often times, those older Christians will cringe at the excitement of younger ones and hope that they settle down and conform at some point.....I mean, they're making us look bad to the public.

Over the past few days I have watched many scenarios unfold which has pitted Christian against Christian. Many are quick to virtually (because we dare not actually have human contact) yell their opinion about cups, Christmas traditions, and politics, yet I do not see much yelling of what is really means to be a Christian...saved by grace and allowing God to work through me.

Is it bad for a Christian to be passionate? Goodness, no....but we are often passionate about the wrong things. Some common words I have seen spewed over the internet are about the fact that instead of worrying about the color of a coffee cup we should worry about the poor and destitute (not in those words). In actuality, that is exactly what we should be thinking about:

James 1: 26-27 says,
26-27 Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.

But here is my question for those posing this argument: Is that what we are thinking about?

I am going to be very honest here...NO, that is not what we are thinking about. We simply want OUR opinion to be heard and validated. So we jump on band wagons and choose sides, virtually berating each other....and all the while the orphan and widow wait.

It would be easy to say that I know the people who have made these comments and I do watch their lives, but the truth is that I am as guilty as the next. If I dealt better with my own need for approval and based all my decision on the Word of God, this world would be far different. If I fanned the flames of the fire in my heart, this world could change. If I commit to teach my children that the world does, in fact, NOT revolve around them, this world could be healed.

A Christian living in and by the Word understands grace far better than those who simply feed freely from grace. All of us have sinned and all of us will continue to sin because our free will often gets distracted. We can block a lot of our sinful tendencies by reading God's Word and studying its application to our lives. It is a daily process to die to self. It takes discipline to hold your tongue and keep your opinion to yourself. It is overcoming a fear of the truth....that the world, indeed, does not revolve around me. I will not cease to exist if I do not take part; however, I must not confuse meekness with weakness. I must not always strive to be politically correct, but to be correct in the Word that governs all.

It is my prayer that Christians would regain their boldness. Make Satan have to work a little harder people! Right now, we have made his job about as easy as it gets. We have become weakened to the point where we argue over petty things and survive from day to day in this fashion. We were made to THRIVE and live fully in life.

So, the next time you feel the need  to hop on a band wagon, I encourage us all (ME TOO!) to first PRAY and seek guidance. Then, examine our own lives. Are we truly living what we're spewing into the world? Then, thrive by doing what the Word says.

In true grace,

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