Dear First Pres Family,
Throughout our lives, we have different voices calling out to us. Those voices, both external and internal, are asking us to do, or to not do, something. Our response is our decision. Maybe it was your mother telling you to clean your room or take out the garbage for the hundredth time. It could have been your sibling demanding that you leave their things alone or stop calling them names. Perhaps it was your spouse asking you to mow the lawn or clean the bathroom before the guests come over. It may be your own voice telling you it’s well past the time to call your aging parents and see how they are getting along. It could be that same voice begging you not to click on that name or image on the computer screen; or that voice calling you to get off the couch and go for a walk or not eat that third dessert.
We all hear those voices in their various forms. And we get to make that choice: do I simply hear it or do I respond? Do I act upon what I have heard? The book of James speaks to those choices we make, whether to hear or to act. I dove into it on Sunday. If you missed it, you can listen to it here…
There is a chasm between being hearers and doers. In the case of James, he is speaking about being hearers of God’s word versus doers of God’s word. There has likely never been an easier time to be a hearer of the word; or to be a hearer of most anything; to be an observer of life; an observer of the world. It is a time in in which you can easily sit at your metaphorical picture window of the world and take it all in. And perhaps it has never been an easier time to not be a doer of the word; or not a doer of most anything.
You can painfully watch people ravaged by an earthquake or flooding and do nothing. Not give any money, not pray, not contact your governmental representatives. You can just watch. And turn to the next disaster or challenging story from across the world, or the next state. And you can do nothing again. And you can hear of that child in the next community who would so benefit from your tutoring or mentoring them too. Certainly you cannot respond to all of it or even most of it. But as we take it all in, we must ask ourselves what can I do? What would Christ have me to do? And if your level of doing climaxes with posting or arguing on Facebook or tweeting about it, maybe it’s time to take another look.
I closed on Sunday with words ripe for today from the ancient Jewish Talmud. These words mirror the deep message of Micah 6:8. “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly now. Love mercy now. Walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” Those words capture some of the spirit of James 1:22 to each of us and to all of us: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” It is a familiar and rather simple command. Yet make no mistake, it is a deep challenge to each of us.
Grateful to be on this journey together, where together we can be doers of God’s word as a community of believers.
Associate Pastor for Congregational Care