(originally written as a journal entry 8/16/14)
I have spent a good amount of time thinking, writing, and meditating on the ideas of Christian community, bearing burdens, perseverance, and the constants in our lives. I have memorized James chapter 1 with my best friend and participated in numerous discussions about its implications in daily life.
I still come to the end of all this and ask myself "now what?"
To be honest, its a bit frustrating.
I spent a good amount of time last night dwelling on this, trying to figure out exactly what the point was. Why do I write? Why do I spend time with people? Why do I read the Bible? Why do I even meditate on these things?
After a good amount of 'fretting and stewing' I realized that the answer lied in one of the verses that I had memorized in James.... "If anyone is a hearer of the Word, but not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror. For once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But the one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does" (vs. 23-25).
This is perhaps the problem that plagues much of Christendom today. We place so much emphasis on the mindless action, and none on the heart of the matter. Scripture is memorized by rote, church attendance becomes mundane, Christian fellowship is reduced to trite phrases, burdens are shoved underneath facades of robust faith.
Yet we miss the heart of the issue....
What does it matter if I memorize James if I fail to let it take hold in my life and I actually seek to apply it? How can I be transformed by the renewing of my mind if I don't allow my mind to be renewed?
I feel that many Christians are good at looking intently at the perfect law, and even understanding the importance of it, yet they fail in the phrase "abiding by it."
Abiding by it.
We abide in an abode. We make our dwelling there. We live there.
The implication is that our lives return to this place by default. The perfect law of liberty - the Word - becomes living and active.
I find that this is more for the benefit of others than it is our own selves. While it certainly puffs ourselves up to memorize scripture and be "good Christians", when we apply the Word we hear then suddenly all of those around us are affected. The paradigm shifts and the Gospel is realized in our lives.
We glorify Jesus in this, we edify those around, we grow ourselves to be more like Jesus, and the Gospel is actually VISIBLE. This is what it truly means to be an "effectual doer."
Can you imagine what would happen if we started asking "now what?" once we read scripture? What then do we do? How do we apply?
Application is where faith becomes real.
Until we obey our faith is merely theory.
What does it look like to be an effectual doer - to abide by the Word?
What blessings are we missing out on because we fail to take God's Word as truth?
May we not forget that "this man will be blessed in what he does."