Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – November 29, 2018
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22 (NIV)
I recently heard a pastor make a fascinating observation about the church. They said so often our churches are either filled with ghosts or with corpses. A church of ghosts cares only about the spiritual realities of our faith. They tend to the interior life, focusing on prayer and doctrine, yet rarely see the way in which this is meant to affect their bodies, their relationships, and their physical engagement with the surrounding community. On the other hand, a church filled with corpses cares only for the physical dimensions of life without ever attending to spiritual health and growth. They may be incredibly engaged socially, serving the neediest of the needy, yet fail to cultivate a flourishing life with God that is daily renewed by the inner work of the Holy Spirit.
Centuries ago, our brother James boldly wrote against the “ghost and corpse mindset” and instead encouraged a robustly integrated life. James took the teaching of our Christian faith incredibly seriously. Not once did he discourage his listeners from pursuing a deeper knowledge of our faith. Yet he knew a profound truth: our growth in the knowledge of God must result in a life transformed by the grace of God. In fact, he’s bold enough to say that if we fail to do so, our “religion is worthless” (James 1:26).
Where do you find yourself today? Have you lived most of your life as a spiritual ghost? Do you view your Christian faith primarily as an intellectual exercise? Or do you serve so devoutly that you never make time for personal prayer and refreshment in God’s presence? Do you see it as a superfluous pursuit that takes away valuable time from your mission and calling? Chances are you likely default to one side or the other.
“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 1:27).
Take seriously James’ call to an integrated, flourishing faith. If God is who he says that he is, then you and I will never exhaust our knowledge or understanding of him. We must spend our entire lives pursuing a deeper knowledge of his goodness and love. And yet that deeper knowledge also opens us to his justice and is an invitation for us to collaborate with him in radical service and sacrifice. The more we know and encounter his love, the more we will turn outward towards the most vulnerable and marginalized in our world, serving them boldly and faithfully, just as we have been served and renewed by the Lord.
Father, help us receive these words from Scripture and take a step today, by your grace, towards an integrated and faithful life. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Consider supporting a ministry, such as Lifeline Children’s Services, that exists to encourage Christians to take the biblical call to care for orphans and widows seriously.
Our growth in the knowledge of God must result in a life transformed by the grace of God. #WisdomHunters #ghosts
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