Confession time. It's been a really long week. I just finished mowing and I'm tired. I've been running all day today, and honestly, I just didn't want to do a blog. But...I'm going to, and here's why. The readings for today jumped to James, a short, but powerful book stuck towards the back of THE book. And James, whichever James it was, has a lot to say in a few words.
Chapter one...he wastes no time..."My dear brothers, (and sisters I might add), take note of this; Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires..." This is a quick little preview of something he gets into in more detail just a little later, and I've got a whole rant ready for that one. But I'll save it.
The next paragraph is where I want to hang my hat today. "Do not merely listen to the word... do what it says..." Now, in case any of my seminary professors ever read this, I'm not prooftexting (taking a few lines from here and there to prove a point). I'm just kind of hitting on the high points in this first chapter of James.
Listening and doing. What are we supposed to do with that? Now James does something with that idea that Luke doesn't (Insert subliminal message for tomorrow's message here). The scripture I'm using tomorrow is Luke 10:38-42, the story of Mary and Martha, and what has come to me is that listening and doing are both important.
How many folks listen to God's word every Sunday, but then never do anything about it? And on the flip side, how many lead a Jesus life, but have never really taken time to hear the Word? If Jesus says to take care of the widows, orphans, outcasts, and those no one else wants to deal with, and we hear Jesus say that, but don't do anything to help them, why do we even bother?
This is one of my passions, I guess. I have been accused of aiding and abetting criminals for not checking greencards in a Hispanic ministry I was a part of. I've spent time with the homeless, spent time in the slums of Nogales Mexico, and it changes you. I know today's blog is not going to be some huge, earth shattering revelation, but this is just one guy thinking through the keyboard. I also don't want to use guilt to try to convince folks to lead a Jesus life after they hear about other folks leading Jesus lives, too many churches do that already. But I do wonder sometimes, how many folks actually take what they hear, or read, and then go do something with it.
I'll admit, this idea of listening and then doing came rather slowly for me. It wasn't until I was in my mid thirties that it really started sinking in. Then, it was driven home for me at a place in Memphis called Manna House. The folks there listen to the word, and then go do it. It's not complicated. It's not rocket science. It's just a group of folks that I have come to know and love, who have put feet on the Word, and the work they do there is absolutely amazing. If you're ever down that way early in the morning, head on over to Jefferson, (that's right, it's in the hood) ask whoever is working that morning to show you how to put feet on this Jesus life you've heard folks talk about, and I guarantee, you will not come away the same person.
It's funny how that works. We hear the stories... Jesus lines out pretty much exactly what his followers have been called to do... and if we actually set out to do it, well, let's just say it's life changing. Imagine that, listening to someone who told folks their lives could be changed, following his guidelines, and watching our lives transformed while we do. Genius!
May God get in your ears and not get out until God gets in your feet.