Monday, March 24, 2014

Wrapping up James Chapter 1...

I know, I know.
I didn't post a weekly wrap-up last week for James 1:25-27.

Reasons why?
*My dog ate it. (Not possible. I don't even have a dog.)
*I forgot. (Nope, I thought about it each day.)
*I was too busy. (Nah, I could have made the time if I really wanted to.)
*I knew the next week was a review week for the entire chapter and that I could just catch it up this week. (Now we're getting warmer.)
*I didn't have it fully memorized. (True story.)

So, yeah. I didn't get the end of James fully memorized the week before, and being a review week I figured I'd just wrap it all up today. Or tomorrow. Or something like that.

And I still don't have it memorized. If I've learned anything from the last 12 weeks it's that putting together a memorization plan is harder than it first seems. Some verses, they are just a mouthful. And there is SO much to be said in each and every word of the Word that it should be taken with prayer and time and care.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not throwing in the towel or anything. I just wish I had known to throw in a couple of extra weeks for James 1. Oh well, this coming week as we begin chapter 2 it will still be a review week of James 1, giving that extra time I need to get it down.

But the application... oh that application. That's where I'm hung up. It's not a challenge to desire to continue in the word, to do what it says and not want to forget it (hence the desire to not just memorize it BUT to apply it.) It's not about being blessed, not at all. I just want to glorify God, to honor Him with my life, to live out this Word and draw others nearer to the heart of who Jesus is and how He loves them so deeply. But then I get to this part about considering yourself religious... In my self-righteous, new age Christianity, the thought of being religious is a no-no. We don't want to cling tight to laws and ritual. We want a real, authentic faith. A personal relationship with Jesus. Not religion, but relationship. So to consider myself religious?
And here we go with application.
So to consider myself religious, this isn't a bad thing then. To align myself with God's Word and God's truth and to seek to love Him and serve Him. This is religion. I can define it how ever I want to - relationship, walking with Jesus, follower of Christ. It's religion though, no matter which way you serve it up. And that isn't a bad thing.

Mind blown.

Then we move on, to keep a tight rein on the tongue. You know, I feel like I do pretty good at that - I don't swear. I'm not a gossip. But is my tongue really reined in?
And here comes conviction.
When I speak sarcastically, and not in a joking way - but in a way that really just means "You're annoying me." Not reined in. When I raise my voice with my kids, or choose words that are less than kind. Still not reined in. When I let disrespect flow in tone and action and speech toward my husband. Not reined in at all.
Convicting? Oh yes, so very much.
So that {relationship/walk/following} RELIGION is worthless. Worthless. And that word, worthless, almost seems too harsh. But is it? That answer is a resounding NO. It's worthless because I choose for it to be worthless. I push it aside and let the flesh take over, in sarcasm, in tone, in action, in unkindness, in disrespect. My religion is worthless when I let its worth take second seat and let my tongue take rein. I let that religion become less worthy than my own ways. Conviction.

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.

And there it is.
I can ask myself "How can I care for orphans?" or  "Am I caring for widows?" I mean, those are legit questions in this reflection. But we do this. We almost do this automatically. It's compassion at its finest. You see a person hurting and you help. So we do what we can. We sponsor a child, we give food to the hungry, we hold the hands of the grieving. It's easy to be a good person. But to be a good person AND keep oneself from being polluted by the world (from making our religion worthless), that takes the Holy Spirit. It's when the power of Christ reins in our tongues and reigns in our hearts and our homes that we lean in and learn to let go of the junk. Just simple, sweet surrender. And He keeps us clean. Not polluted. We become Pure. Faultless. And that can be hard - to surrender, to let go and let the power of Christ reign in our lives. It leaves me thankful that He never gives up on me. 

Because I'm a hot mess down here.

Is it any wonder I'm hung up here? My heart won't let my mind absorb it all fully until my heart has reconciled it's truth, repented of selfish ways, and turned to the One who can make religion worthwhile.


  1. What a challenging message! Thank you.

    And yes, "that can be hard - to surrender, to let go and let the power of Christ reign in our lives. It leaves me thankful that He never gives up on me."

    1. Grace and love are truly an astounding characteristic of our Holy God.

      Thanks for stopping by!