Have you ever had one of those moments when you’re out and about in the street or supermarket and you hear your name being called. You turn around and someone approaches you smiling saying ‘it IS you – how are you? Gosh it must be 10 years…” and they know exactly who you are but you have absolutely no idea who they are?
I’m terrible with both names and faces I’m afraid. My wife finds it highly entertaining and frustrating in equal measure. She will regularly be telling me about her day and how she spoke to such-and-such a person and I’ll say ‘who?’ which is then followed by my wife telling me all about them from what they look like to the fact that we had dinner with them last week!
The truth is my memory is shocking. I can’t remember peoples’ names or faces and there’s been more than one occasion at church where I’ve mixed people up and thought I was talking to one person when it turns out it was somebody totally different except because they’re lovely Christians they didn’t tell me until I realised about half way through the conversation! Awkward…
So when I read the following passage it struck a chord:
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 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 1:22-27 NIV)”
We’ve been having this conversation about ‘justice’ for a year now and we’ve looked at it from a whole set of different angles. We’ve looked at what different parts of the Bible have to say about it; we’ve looked at why it’s important; how it’s an essential part of the heart and character of God. We’ve seen that it’s not just good for the people on the receiving end but it changes us as well. We’ve tried to define it and highlighted how to act justly is to worship God.
We’ve considered everything from global poverty to what coffee you drink and plenty in between – but this time I just want to say one simple thing…
Whatever you think about justice and whatever projects or plans you’ve considered – DO IT.
I sat with a friend on Monday evening this week and we spoke about how we’re getting on with our Bible in a Year readings and what we’ve made of it so far and as usual I got a little over-excited and rambled on for far too long – I love it. I love talking with others about the Word of God and what it means for our lives and all of that stuff. And it’s good to do that. It’s great to sit and drink tea and share what God is saying to us and how He’s at work in our lives and dream about all the stuff we long to see happen – but as James, in his brilliantly blunt style reminds us, if all we do is talk and think and dream – we’re forgetting the very thing God calls us to be.
I long to see lives around me transformed – but to see that I’ve got to engage with God and join him in His mission… And that means doing something.
You might remember right at the start of our time together I was reminiscing about an encounter with a girl I kind of liked…(check out last March’s blog). It ended up with me giving up a Saturday morning to paint someone’s kitchen and I met her there. Talking is great. Thinking is brilliant; but if you want to meet the Living God and see people turned around – get up and get involved.