Monday, July 27, 2009

Is your religion worthless? James 1:26

When you pray what do you ask for? Depending on what is going on in my life I might ask God for strength, His strength, discernment, always ask for wisdom, scripture says if we only ask for wisdom God will give it to us, that meant a lot to a young women whose wisdom was nill. (James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.)

The only wise choice I made at that time in my life was to know I had no wisdom, and wanted some. So I started praying each day for wisdom, and I might not be as wise as many, but compared to my wisdom 18 years ago I have been blessed richly. One consistent prayer, I ask God each time when I pray on my own and when I pray with my kids is to make me more like Jesus tomorrow than I am today. That probably sounds cliche but that is what I want and that is what I want for my kids. I don't want to be rich, I don't want a fancy home, earthly things just seem to keep me as their possession not the other way around. I just want to love with a love that comes from Christ. I want to love those who other's either don't see, or those who for whatever reason are not easy to love. I want to love people as they are, no strings attached, but I want to see them through the eyes of Christ, for what they can become. For what they can overcome if they will just follow the path God has for them. A friend helps a lot in those circumstances.

God has many times in my life brought people with same-s*x attraction into my life. I have several times written of my friend Carey here who passed several years ago. I have recounted Carey's story several times in the last couple of weeks and each time I am caught off guard with tears. God might have used me in Carey's life, but truly God used Carey to teach me more than I ever taught him. He just needed a friend. A friend who could bring food when he was sick, or a friend who could answer questions from scripture but not spout off scripture as a deadly weapon, mostly Carey just liked to laugh and be a friend.

The study by Barna cites that most Christians are defined by non-Christians as h*m*s*xual haters. That is how we are defined. I would say that many who represent Christ by holding a sign, and saying ugly words, hateful words outside a funeral, do not represent Christ at all. Christ was very clear in scripture that we are not to judge the world, but by our love they will come to know Him. Hate never changes someone's hearts or desires. But love does.

It was Christ's unconditional love that brought me from drug and alcohol abuse. It was never someone telling me I shouldn't be participating in all the mess I was in. The people who helped me along the way were kind, loving and authentic with their own struggles. The spirit of condemnation that many have repulse and put walls up between them and others.

I am writing this today because I heard someone speak words that would have been hurtful and possibly turned someone away from Christ if they had been present when spoken. I have a news flash for everyone out there, people who you hang out with have baggage, if they don't have baggage their family has baggage, there is baggage somewhere.

It is time that God's people start talking like God's people, acting like God's people, loving like God's people. Not just choosing what sin's we can accept in those around us and bash the rest. A great man of faith who I am blessed to know, M.C. Cranfill used to make a business card up to carry with him. He might still have some in his wallet. He put the name of our church, then underneath, Hospital for Sinners. I wonder if there are certain sinners some don't welcome with open arms into our church? We will answer to God on how much we love, and the pain we cause others who are searching for Christ. Would our words or actions cause them to just leave and give up for there is no hope for them even in Christ, for His followers make that very clear?

James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.

1 Espressos To Go!:

Trumpets said...

Hi. Wow, this is full of interesting balances to consider. After pondering, I still don't know the best way to handle a situation like this, and wish I could sit down with Jesus and ask him. I've asked, and I'm sure his teaching will come.

One of the balances involved, I think, is that sometimes we're too afraid of offending people, and not enough afraid of offending God. We think he'll accept anything, and that's sort of true at your point of repentance and coming to him, but it's not true in the long run. How are we to handle that transition? Maybe this doesn't sound right to you, so here's an illustration.

Suppose a woman decides to turn to the Lord and she starts attending church. She's a single mother who's been working as a hooker, and let's say for the purpose of this illustration that's all she could find to do to put food on the table.

This is wonderful that she's turned to the Lord, praise God, welcome her with open arms, don't shun her. You mentioned James 1:26. Both the new sinner who's entered the hospital and the Christians already there have to live by this. Both have to read what God says and live by it. So that means the existing Christians have to welcome and treat with love, but it also means the new sinner has to repent and begin a process of getting her ways in line with God's ways. As Jesus told the woman caught in adultery, "Go, and sin no more."

And here's the part I don't begin to know how to handle. What if, over time, she doesn't stop being a hooker, she doesn't repent, she can't or won't do what it takes to find another way to put food on the table? I know this is unlikely in real life, but let's use it as an illustration.

In the end, those who refuse to worship God and repent are going into the lake of fire. The apostles instruct us to avoid and shun immoral people, and that the church should not tolerate sins God hates.

So what to do? Do you give the person time to learn what God hates, and watch and see if repentance is in progress? If after a good period of time you see no repentance, do you put them out of the church? Paul did that.

Like I said, this situation is full of opportunities to learn how to balance this situation the way Jesus would. We see some examples in Paul's writings, so how do we apply this in our day? It's a good thing to discuss with the Lord, because learning how to handle this kind of situation will definitely make us more like him. May we all get there - thanks for bringing it up!