Doers of the Word

James 1:22-25

22 But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. 23 For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; 24 for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. 25 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.”  NRSV

Too often, when the faithful read a passage like this from James, it gets interpreted corporately rather than personally. It is read as a message to the church rather than to the individual. With the advent of denominationalism, the subtle message conveyed to the faithful was to think in terms of the body, the church, rather than individually. The faithful served the “church.” The faithful financially supported the “church.” The faithful made its witness to the Gospel through the programmatic ministries of the “church.” The faithful’s relationship to God or Christ was filtered through the “church.” It was the “church” that determined the validity of one’s relationship to God.

To be clear, countless blessings flow and have flowed from the “church.” This is not meant to diminish the importance of thr church in the world. Is is meant to elevate each of us into the fullness of God.

What may need to be re-examined is what a personal relationship with God or Christ looks like independent of the “church.”

When James says “be doers of the word” the faithful instinctively hear that as a command to the “church,” not to them individually. What the “church” does programmatically sets the individual free from further obligation. After all, haven’t we satisfied our “be doers” obligation through our attendance and the $10 bill will left in the offering tray on Sunday?

James’ target audience is not the behavior of the church. It is the behavior of each one who confesses Jesus as Lord. You, (insert your name), “be a doer of the word,” says James! Relying only on the “church” to be the doer of the word on our behalf makes us little more than hearers of the word. “Being hearers of the word” is the wrong posture for the faithful. Instead,”be doers of the word who act” to the glory of God and for the sake of the world God so loves.

Start by being a blessing to someone today!

 

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