Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 130; 148, Joel 2:28-3:8, James 1:16-27, Luke 16:1-9
Self-portraits used to involve some effort and maybe a little skill, and lot of both to take a good one. Digital cameras removed the time and expense of film processing, and the front-facing phone camera unleashed a torrent of tourists reducing the splendor of the Grand Canyon to a background for a selfie. Armed with the delete button and a battalion of photo retouching apps, we can take shot after shot and adjust them to craft just the right image to present to the world. Staged spontaneity.
James had strong opinions about appearance versus reality:
If any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act – they will be blessed in their doing.
Some people think the Book of James pushes a theology of acts over grace. For James they are inseparable because acts are the evidence that Christ dwells within us. We can talk about our faith all day long, but talk is shallow as a mirror, and creates a similar illusion of depth. When our hearts are truly committed to Christ, our actions follow, and we can’t help living out that commitment. It’s the difference between taking dozens of pictures to capture the perfect moment for public consumption, and actually living the countless imperfect moments that make a life.
Prayers and songs and scriptures are important – they are our Christian family portraits. Revisiting them should do more than remind us where we came from; it should inspire us to carry on the family legacy of doing peace and justice – “inspire” in the sense of “breathe life into” our words of faith. If we don’t direct that breath toward the real world where Christ calls us to cares for the widows and orphans, the alien and the outcast, friends and enemies, all we really do is fog the mirror.
Comfort: A heart transformed by Christ results in a transformed life.
Challenge: Seriously look at how you spend your time, and ask yourself if it reflect the faith you want to have.
Prayer: Thank you Lord for lives resurrected in Christ. Amen.
Discussion: What areas of your life need less talk and more action?
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