Monday, December 1, 2008

Not Forgetting Who We Are

This year I’m joining other friends at my church in an eight-month trek through one of my favorite books of the Bible, the epistle of James.

In recent days I’ve been mulling over the second half of James chapter 1. In verse 19, James urges us to be quick to listen. The idea is to be ready to instantly and actively listen to God and others. Then in verse 22, James warns against passively listening to God’s Word. If we do that, the implication is clear in verses 23-25. We will forget who we are in God’s eyes. And we will fail to make spiritual and moral choices that honor God and bring about God’s blessing in our lives.

Imagine forgetting who we are. Three nights ago my wife, Renée, and I watched the movie Net 2.0. In the movie, the main character, whose name is Hope, accepts a huge salary to take a super high tech job in Turkey, only to arrive there and have her identity completely and absolutely stolen. This main character, Hope, is almost immediately accused of murder, relentlessly chased, nearly killed, brutally arrested, and then psychologically tormented under the guise of an exhaustive maximum security police interrogation. But the main character refuses to give up the one thing the rogue police interrogator can’t take from her. Despite everything, she refuses to deny her true identity. In essence, she says: My name is Hope. My name has always been Hope. Do whatever you want. You can’t make me deny who I am.

What would it take for you and me to deny who we are? Sadly, the greatest crisis in America today is the huge number of Christians who no longer see themselves as brothers and sisters in Christ. When they look in the mirror in the morning, the man they see — the woman they see — is anything but a committed follower of Jesus Christ.

What about you? When you look in the mirror, who do you see?

According to James 1, who you see in that mirror will directly impact what you do and how you live. If you find yourself passively resisting God’s will for your life, James tells us, check the mirror of God’s Word. It’s perfect. It offers true freedom to fully be the man or woman God designed us to be, experiencing His love, joy, and peace in our lives.

Throughout his fast-paced book, James addresses three different kinds of Christians. Some are brothers and sisters in Christ who love God with all their hearts and obey Him in every area of their lives. These individuals know and experience God’s spiritual blessings in every sphere of life. Some, however, have wandered from the truth of God’s Word — and still others are being tempted to wander away from God.

In reality, which of us hasn’t been tempted? Everyday, we face spiritual and moral choices to follow God or slowly start walking away from Him.

It’s been wisely said: “Silently and imperceptibly, as we work or sleep, we grow strong or we grow weak; and at last some crisis shows us what we have become” (B.F. Westcott). 

In the past 77 days, what have you become?

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