"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it - not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it - they will be blessed in what they do." James 1:22-25
I still believe many people in our communities don't understand the church. There are many who believe church is a building or a place. The church is a people. The church is a fellowship family of believers in Jesus Christ, held together by His power and love. I don't blame the people in the community for this misunderstanding. I take responsibility for it as the pastor of the church. I believe it is the church's fault for this misunderstanding. Too many church leaders and church members are more concerned about what is going on inside the walls rather than what is going on outside the walls. Again, church is NOT a building; it is NOT a place. Church is a people...a people changed by the grace of God through Jesus Christ! I love coming to this place in Start, Louisiana, and I love coming to this building, the worship center, to gather with my fellowship family. We pray together, we fellowship together, and we study the Word of God together. WAIT...there it is...we study the Word of God together. If we are really studying the Word of God together, then the Word of God is going to have an effect on us as church leaders and as church members.
James was serious about the Word. He understood the power of the Word. He challenges us to not only "listen" or "hear" the Word, but to "DO what is says." He challenges us to "CONTINUE in it." The power of the Word is not simply in reading it or hearing it; the power of the Word is in actually living it out loud. Hebrews 4:12 says, "For the Word of God is ALIVE and ACTIVE. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it PENETRATES even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." As a pastor and church leader, I have to get out of my comfort zones; I have to get out from behind my desk; and I have to get out from behind the pulpit, and I have to DO what the Word says. I have to be ACTIVE with the Word. I have to come ALIVE with the Word. I must allow the Word to PENETRATE my heart and mind and allow it to change my ATTITUDES toward others. One of my favorite Scriptures has always been Colossians 3:16-17. The first part of verse 16 says, "Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly." The Word of God penetrates my heart and mind and lives in me and through me. The last part of verse 16 says, "...as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts." The Word of God leads me to act...to teach and to admonish and to sing. Verse 17 says with finality, "And whatever you DO, whether in word or deed, DO it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."
If we want our churches to truly be the lighthouses in the communities that we live, then we must be doers of the Word, not just hearers. We, beginning with pastors and leaders, are going to have to get out there and DO the Word. We are going to have to get out there and LIVE the Word. If you are reading this today, and you are already allowing the Word to penetrate your heart and your mind and the Word is alive and active in you and through you, THANK YOU! If not, I want to challenge you, James challenges us all, to not only study the Word of God but also to DO what it says continuously. May it begin with me, Lord! Amen!