James 1:22-25 tells us pretty clearly that we need to do more than hear God’s word. There must be action that accompanies hearing it. Here are the words of James to us:
But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.
I’m drawn to the idea that sometimes we become consumers instead of creators in the church. I’ve already talked about the idea a bit on this blog already. Consuming is generally an easier path than creating. All we really have to care about are our own wants and desires. We look for programming that suits our individual and our family preferences in the name of meeting our needs. If the music doesn’t match our taste exactly then we move on. If the pastor’s sermon doesn’t make us feel good about ourselves then we are quick to criticize him.
In this mindset, we find ourselves seeking to meet our needs without necessarily thinking about the needs of those around us. In fact, we might not even really reflect on the difference between preference and need. We treat the Church like a business. We our investing in it by putting our money in the offering plate and giving a few extra hours of our time a week. We then ask ourselves…Why shouldn’t we get what want? After all…God wants me to be happy and have my needs met right? When we think this way, we become consumers. I think in part, this is what James is warning us against. He does not want us to be idle consumers.
I think James wants us to be creators instead of only consumers. For instance, if we see a need in our church for a particular ministry, instead of being frustrated that it doesn’t exist and then move on, we could create it or support others that could. We should use our God-given ingenuity and creativity, and gifts to apply God’s Word. Christians have been doing this throughout history. We build hospitals and provide care for the widow and orphan. We have worked to abolish slavery, which is a fight that the church continues fight to this day.
Let me illustrate it this way. A person I met in their 80’s couldn’t take care of themselves any longer and went into a nursing home. They could have gone into that home and expected that others were going to care for them. Instead, they went in with a different way of seeing their time there. They knew that in nursing homes there are a lot of lonely people. This person made it their mission to meet with everyone in their wing everyday to visit and pray. They saw their time in the nursing home as an opportunity to serve. They saw a need and instead of expecting someone else to care for them and the others, they took it upon themselves to minister to others. This person was a creator. They built relationships and created community in a place where many were very lonely. It would have been easy for this person to sit back and consume the home’s services. Instead this person became a doer of the word and actively advanced the Kingdom of God.
Here are some of the questions for reflection:
- Do I sit idly by and consume or do I seek to create when it comes to my church and the ministry it offers?
- How can we help move people from being consumers to creators?
- What are the root causes of my own idleness when it comes to obeying God’s word?