August 29, 2021
SCRIPTURE READING: James 1:19-27
Each of the writers of the New Testament seem to have their own personality and style. Whoever wrote the book of James was a very practical church leader. “Here’s how it is. Here is what you ought to be doing.” Six times in the first chapter he uses either the word “should” or “ought.”
Maybe I SHOULDN’T have told you that, but if you like someone who gets straight to the point, you’d like James. ALSO, James is very action oriented. A “just do it!” kind of guy.
He doesn’t mess around. Look again at verses 1:22-25. It’s a good thing James is in the Bible and that we have James-like people in the church! Otherwise we’d all assume that religion was just about coming to church when we feel like it, listening on Facebook when we don’t, and not thinking about it the rest of the week! James reminds us that it’s not all about getting your head or heart right, it’s about DOING something about it in the real world – making a difference!
Christianity is about a change in your schedule as well as your head and heart. It’s not a religion for couch potatoes nor is it for people who like to look in the mirror and then apply some make-up so that they LOOK GOOD! No, James says it’s OK to look at yourself in the mirror so that you come to terms with WHO YOU REALLY ARE and then – DO SOMETHING about it!
So pull out your phone or your little schedule book and take a hard look. Does that look like the schedule of a follower of Jesus? Not, mind you, a believer in Jesus but a follower! What you DO tells the world everything they need to know about what you believe!
There are three really good reasons why you have been asked to actually DO SOMETHING GOOD in the world because you follow Jesus:
- Because God was very clever when God made the world. The world is designed so that God doesn’t have to do all the work Godself! I think it is a clever arrangement.
God made our world so that we NEED one another and so that we MUST LEARN to cooperate and serve one another for the world to thrive. It is a part of the design!
You see, I believe at the foundational level, this world runs on love or it does not run at all. God is Love and we must learn to love like God loves if we want the world to survive.
So the first reason why we must continually focus on being of service to one another is that in doing so, we further the design and the purpose of our creator. When we serve others, WE BECOME CO-CREATORS WITH GOD in one big universal design. So we serve for God’s benefit – to further the agenda of God!
- We do for the obvious reason that SERVICE TO OTHERS BENEFITS THE PEOPLE WE SERVE. We have gotten so hung up on whether or not the people we serve deserve it or not that we have pulled away from the whole call to serve.
It used to be that those in the helping roles continually said to themselves: “Whether or not they deserve it is not my concern. I am just here to be the hands and feet of Jesus and leave the judgment to God.”
I have to say that I don’t know where the line should be drawn. I don’t know how much effort we should place on determining whether or not a recipient deserves to be helped. But when I look at Jesus, I see someone who just helped and served without getting into whether or not the help was merited. I do know this: It is hard and not very satisfying to try to always figure out who deserves help and who doesn’t. It is much easier to listen to an inner voice and obey it, leaving the determination to God.
- SERVICE TO OTHERS BENEFITS ME. As our world becomes more and more crowded and the needy become more and more numerous, it becomes more and more self-destructive to find ourselves on the side of holding tight to what we have for fear of losing it.
There is nothing like the joy and the freedom that comes from generosity. Especially the generosity which pushes me to the place of having to trust God to meet my needs. Philippians 4:19: But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
So, at St. John’s UCC, we serve others 1) FOR GOD’S BENEFIT. God needs us because that’s how the world was created. 2) FOR THEIR BENEFIT. Serving and giving changes lives like nothing else. 3) FOR OUR BENEFIT. We serve because in the serving, we become better people.
St John’s is a giving, serving place. I don’t say these things to imply we aren’t. I say these things as a reminder, an encouragement, and as an effort to say to you what Paul said to the Galatian church (6:9): Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.