Saturday March 6 – Day 18 – TO LOOK GOOD IS TO DO GOOD
Saturday March 6 – Day 18 – TO LOOK GOOD IS TO DO GOOD
“22 Do what God’s teaching says; don’t just listen and do nothing. When you only sit and listen, you are fooling yourselves. 23 Hearing God’s teaching and doing nothing is like looking at your face in the mirror 24 and doing nothing about what you saw. You go away and immediately forget how bad you looked.” – James 1:22-24 (ERV)
We live at a time in history when we literally have all of the information we need at our fingertips. If we need to know something, we Google it (yes, Google has become an action word!). If you aren’t Googling, you aren’t learning, right? In the history of Christendom we have never had such a wealth of information to study, encourage us and help draw us into the presence of God. Most sources can be obtained for free without any personal sacrifice to any of us. You would think that the wealth of information given to us would make us the most faithful and fervent generation for Jesus that ever lived, right?
So why is it that in 2021, we see many people leaving their faith (as well as the church) and that Christianity is becoming less and less enticing for those who are on a new spiritual journey?
Why is it that most of the hearts of followers have grown cold towards Jesus in the 21st Century?
We all have great intentions. A lot of us probably had THIS conversation in our heads at the start of the pandemic: “Now that I have all of this extra time on my hands thanks to the virus, I am going to do _______. _______ and _________.” Now, how many of you were able to complete those things? I have to admit, I have been blessed during the pandemic but I was forced to wake myself up and come up with new solutions for our church community. I spent the first two weeks many many many hours researching, learning and understanding more about live streaming and how to do it as a church with champagne tastes on a beer budget. In having to respond so quickly and with an approach to do church online, it inspired me to do more. It elevated me out of my classic winter blue funk and got me assessing other aspects of my professional, personal and spiritual life. This time for me has been a creative and inspiring period.
There are others who cannot make the same declaration.
Isn’t it a truism that the more we do, the more we want to do?
James reminds us that it is not enough to simply hear God’s teachings. If we simply listen and do not act on His word, the truth inherent in His word gets forgotten.
The last thing God wants us to do is to forget the hopeful life He has in store for us.
It doesn’t matter how many devotionals we read, how many spiritual books we have digested and that sit on our shelves and make us look well read.
It matters if we have taken God’s word and IMPRINTED it onto our hearts.
It matters if the truth we have learned makes a difference in the lives of those around us.
It matters if God’s teachings inspire others to look to Jesus and desire to know Him in a deeper way.
Although this reference dates me, I loved Billy Crystal’s portrayal of Fernando Lamas on Saturday Night Live (if you have never seen this, google it lol!). His favourite tag line was “You Look Marvellous!”. He would also say “I would rather look good than feel good”. Sometimes we THINK we look great leaving the house in the morning and then when we see our reflection in a store window on the way to work, our opinion changes immediately: “WHAT WAS I THINKING? I LOOK TERRIBLE!”.
Can you imagine what it would be like to look in the mirror before you left the house, looking disheveled and ragged, bedhead and wearing half of your old tattered pyjamas, look terrible and then leave the house because you had just forgotten what you REALLY looked like? Could you imagine the response you would get from passers by? From your work colleagues? I have to admit, I have been tempted to lead worship in my pyjamas online during the pandemic (because i would be very comfy) but because I love you all I would never subject you to this sight.
The truth is, to look good is to do good.
Meditating on God’s word day and night creates a natural response in us: we WANT to act on God’s teachings because they are imprinted on our hearts. There are times when life does throw us some “curve balls”, and we find it “difficult to make contact”. But when we are in that beautiful moment where our lives intersect with the will of God, amazing things happen.
The world begins to see more of Jesus and less of us.
To look good is to be good.
The more we do for God, the more we want to do. The more selfless things we do, the more we feel blessed, and we want to respond in love to God’s blessings. But if we don’t allow God’s teachings to ring true in our hearts, like a favourite melody or a cherished memory, then our faith becomes challenged and eventually we will fall into ambivalence and apathy.
How many times over the course of the pandemic that I heave heard some heart resonating truths from Pastor Melissa as well as from all of our supply preachers and never fully responded to their challenges? Do you find yourself doing the same thing? Do you only watch our gatherings because you like the music or the children’s story but don’t want to go deeper? I am reminded of many large churches who have very very few active small groups because the majority of the congregation are good with their hour of entertainment and then ready to move on with their busy and tightly scheduled lives.
God’s truth demands more than just an hour of your time.
I also throw this out to you, church: maybe we aren’t growing because we are a church that only wants to be entertained for an hour and nothing more?
Do you think this is true?
We are not alone. The global Christian church is experiencing the same kind of issues. People want what they want, take what they wish and then go on their merry way. Living a surrendered life is the last thing on many people’s minds and hearts it seems these days. Many have served the church for years and now as they reach their retirement years need a break from serving. And yet, God reminds us that a life of service is not finished until we walk that beautiful mile home to be with Jesus.
As we move forward as a church, it is crucial that the desire to see people have an active and significant relationship with Jesus is greater than anything else in our lives.
And therein lies the real problem: our hearts have grown cold because we do not feel the urgency to make disciples of Jesus in the 21st Century.
And this is why our churches are dying.
As we act on God’s teachings, we respond by doing good and then we begin to “look good” i.e. the world sees our good works and are emotionally affected by it.
Lent is a perfect time to renew our commitment to Jesus. A time to reflect on God’s word and to respond in love. Our response will affect the world, and will draw people who have receptive hearts and who are in need of a Beautiful Saviour. Let us commit to God and to each other that we will not only listen but respond in love, so that we can fulfil our mandate: to make disciples of Jesus, no matter what.
May God’s love reach us in different ways during this Lenten season and may you always look good to the world by doing good in Jesus’ name.
You look MARVELLOUS, church! 🙂