evening scripture

January 28, 2008

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. 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 a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

 If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

–Jesus’ brother, James


2 Responses to “evening scripture”

  1. I wish it were more usual to emphasize the passages that exhort us to what a Buddhist might call “right action” – knowing the tree by its fruit, another passage by James “show me your faith without works and by my works I will show you my faith,” Paul’s “Work while it is day; for the night comes, when no one can work” etc. There are plenty of them.

    It seems to me Christianity is too often made into a kind of spectator sport where forgiveness of sins is brought to the foreground and the imitation of Christ set way way in the background. I prefer the reverse picture and frankly much care less about me being forgiven than doing a little good while I still can.

  2. jt Says:

    Great to hear your thoughts. I’m not sure I’ve ever paid much attention to which passages of Scripture are “usual” or emphasized with regularity.

    On my blog, I tend to post passages that have personal relevance—related to circumstances in my day or the current state of my heart. (For example, I posted this passage in James when I learned about a pending situation that caused me to anticipate my own rash, angry, and reactionary response; I wanted to reflect and—through my post—plan for a different way forward.)

    In any case, I do agree that those who claim to follow Christ ought to be like Him, imitating not only in “thought” or theory, but actually fleshing out (as Christ did so thoroughly & beautifully) the Divine will & way.

    It may be that a misconception of God’s forgiveness–where “getting saved” or “washed in the blood of Jesus” means only “I get a ticket to heaven” (what Dallas Willard has called “barcode faith”)–has caused the separation you note (of forgiveness in the foreground, imitation of Christ in the background). As long as I’m “saved” (it seems many would say) who cares about the world or how I live inside of it?

    It may also be that (what I feel is) a right conception of God’s forgiveness–where “doing good” (i.e. imitating Christ) comes naturally as the fruit of one who, through repentance and faith in Christ, receives a miraculous, new-life–has inclined Christians to feature forgiveness as they do. According to this stream of thought, it seems one might argue for an appropriate kind of “foreground” for forgiveness and all it entails.

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