Greetings in the name of the Lord.
Summer is now in full swing. The Fourth of July is HERE.
The two exciting weeks for Marco and Giovanni spent in preparation for, and leading up to fireworks, had built to a fever pitch. The big moment had finally arrived!!!! It took all of about 10 seconds for the look on Giovanni’s face to turn from anticipatory delight to abject panic as he quickly decided that fireworks were the most terrifying proposition that the human mind can conceive. Oh well maybe next year!
We have lately been studying the biblical covenants on Sunday morning for the last five weeks to better understand God’s character, his nature, our relationship to him and what it is based on. These are very important elements to our belief system about God. In fact, they are the groundwork of our orthodox beliefs.
We have recently taken up a study in the book of James. James challenges us not simply to right belief but to right living as well. He is basically telling us that if our faith is genuine; then our Christian walk must be authentic. James calls us out of the theoretical part of our faith and into the practical. His charge to his first hearers was basically this, “If you say you believe like you should, why do you behave as you shouldn’t?”
Even in seminary, the training ground for ministry, I met people who could walk right past a hurt person on their way to the library to learn ‘about’ God. We can have all the right theory, be able to defend the historic Christian faith with sparkling eloquence, but we are a clanging gong if we don’t have a genuine love of God and others that is born out of an understanding of who Christ is and what He accomplished on our behalf. Humility is THE hallmark of the believer. It is sort of the Christian checklist all dwindled down to one box that must be checked. “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13:1
How will the world know we are Christians when we are not in Church? By our ‘God talk’? How will my coworker in the office know I am a Christian? By my Church affiliation as a Baptist? Or a Presbyterian? How will the fellow digging the ditch or laying the pipe or enforcing the law or fighting the fire know I am a Christian?
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
James is confronting his audience of first century Christian Jews and letting them know that right belief counts for nothing if it is not followed up by right actions. And that action is L-O-V-E!
Now James is NOT saying that right belief is not important. James is no weak theologian. He knew the Old Testament backwards, forwards and sideways and so did those he wrote to. He is simply reminding them that the intellectual side of Christianity must be in concert with the application of it from Jesus’ perspective.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1: 22-27
A professor in a liberal university was once asked smugly by one of his students if he believed in God; to which he proclaimed, “absolutely not”! The class was stunned when he followed it up with, “But I Know God”! It is not enough to know about God, we must know God!
Famed Christian writer, Brennan Manning, once stated that “there is absolutely no point trumpeting the Lordship of Jesus Christ if His values are not our values and His attitudes and motives are not our attitudes and motives.”
As we traverse through the book of James together, let us be humbly reminded of who we are IN CHRIST and live our lives among one another as if we understand that concept fully, and have ONLY that concept to stand ON!!
See you all on Sunday! Don’t be late 🙂
In loving service,