Allow yourself to be moved to actionWhere's the Faith?, Bottom Highlights Thursday, May 31st, 2012
Social Chaos: Where's the Faith?
“I’m not religious, I’m spiritual …” is a common phrase we’ve all heard. I like it myself. To me, when I think of being religious, I think of rules and regulations, do’s and don’ts, and being all stuffy and uppity. Who needs it? I also like the phrase, “Some people are so heavenly minded, they’re no earthly good!” Do you know anyone like that?
In the book of James, we read that we are to be doers of the word, and not just hearers.
James also says, “If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues, but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Creator, is this: To care for orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
The admonition here is to bridle our tongues against anything that is not uplifting, building up, encouraging … the power of our words.
The final step in this process that James gives us is that we allow ourselves to be moved to act on the word. He’s talking here of putting the word to practical use. You see, we not only respond to the word by acknowledging a need to do it, but by finding practical ways to actually do it.
First, guard your tongue. That’s right! James tells us that our “religion is worthless” unless our “tongue” is kept on a “tight rein.”
Second, give to others. He says that practical religion is “to look after orphans and widows in their trouble.” In other words, living out the word in a practical way will mean that we care about others. Reaching out beyond our own interests – and even our own desires. Historically, it has been churches who have set up hospitals, orphanages, homes for the elderly and many other social institutions designed to care for the needs of others.
People matter to God. And people should matter to us as well. One of the ways that we act on the word is to have compassion for people and do something to help them. It doesn’t have to be huge. You might not be able to support them for life. But don’t focus on what you can’t do. Instead, focus on what you can do. You might not be able to do everything, but you can do something. And people will see your good works and glorify our Creator in heaven.
Third, guard your life. James tells us that a mark of true spirituality is “to keep oneself unstained” by the world.” In other words, don’t let other people influence you in a negative way, keep your life clean. Guard it. Be careful. Watch what you say. Watch your responses. Pay attention to your attitude. Don’t let anything keep your light from burning bright – and hinder you from sharing the love of God with others.
Let me ask you some questions. What lessons from this can you put into practice? What has God said to you? What are you willing to do about it? Has God said that you need to be quick to listen, slow to speak, to calm down? Is there anger in your life? Will you make a commitment today to give it to God?
Make a commitment that you will keep. As you think about what God is saying to you, ask yourself this question. What can I do? How can I apply what I know? Then – just do it! You are loved.
I invite you to enjoy an evening of music from the MLK Community Choir – Sunday, June 3, 6 p.m. at 2633 Denver Street.
Rev. Dan Koeshall is the Senior Pastor at The Metropolitan Community Church (The Met) in San Diego, California, themetchurch.org.
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