Doing Christianity

James 1: 22

But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not just hearers who deceive themselves.

You might like The Passion Translation of this verse, “Don’t just listen to the Word of Truth and not respond to it, for that is the essence of self-deception.” You should read the NIV version too. They are all getting to the same point but by a little different route. Jesus’ brother shows us that Christianity means discipleship of Christ. In being disciples of Christ, we do what he did and follow his ways. Surely a key part of that is in doing the Word.

I think if I moved to another state it would be Missouri, The Show Me State. I love their slogan. Perhaps I live in that state of mind now. I think about our Christian practice and think it should be less about telling people about Christ and Christianity and a whole lot more about showing them. Hopefully, when we live our Christianity, it opens up doors for us to tell people about the goodness of God and his son.

James said we are deceiving ourselves when we call ourselves Christians but don’t do what the Word says. For example, we saw last week a proverb that told us not to lie. So, that one is pretty easy. When we “do” the Word, we become truth tellers. We install that verse into the mechanics of our lives. How about another example? Matthew 5: 15 – 16, “Don’t hide your light! Let it shine for all; let your good deeds glow for all to see, so that they will praise your heavenly Father.” This one seems pretty simple too but the point we might miss is that we are to do good unto others. In other words, Jesus is not leading us to showing off or bragging because he explicitly told us not to practice our righteousness in the sight of others in order to be noticed by them (Matthew 6: 1). Instead, let our light, the light of Christ, shine by showing the kindness of Jesus and Yahweh to others. One more? “Do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on (Matthew 6: 25). Don’t worry! When you practice Christianity, you must divorce yourself from worry and fear. These are an insult to God who is our provider and strong fortress. Jesus wants us to put our faith in our Father and not worry nor fret.

I could go on and on. Many verses are direct, explicit instruction. Others may need more meditation to discern how they should affect your life. Each Word of the Day is an invitation to see what God is saying to you. You can ask yourself, how should this change my life?

The bottom line is that as Christians we should demonstrate the meaning of Christianity. What are disciples of Christ? People ought to be able to look at our lives and see Jesus. Of course, the number one principle Jesus taught us is that in showing love, we prove ourselves to be disciples of Christ.

Let your light shine for all the world to see. Help others to light their candles. Let us stand up and be counted as followers of Jesus, the Christ, who gave his life that none should perish.

The Cure for Anxiety

Matthew 6: 33

But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.

Many of us are familiar with Matthew 6: 33, but let us look back a little today. The New American Standard Bible has titles for many sections of scripture. This section is titled “The Cure for Anxiety.” I have verses highlighted in here as do many of you but today I wanted to attempt to look at it with new eyes. So I began reading right after the caption, which begins in verse 25. Of course, Jesus is speaking here so in my mind I translated that as, “Jesus is going to teach me how to be free of anxiety.” Alright, I will sign up for the class.

Jesus began to speak and for seven verses he attempts to reveal the Father’s mind and heart about our needs by showing us examples from nature. Jesus gives us picturesque examples so that in our minds eye we can visually follow what he is teaching in regards to anxiety. Then you hit verse 32. Allow me to quote it for you, “For all these things the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” I don’t know how many times I have read that verse but it stopped me in my tracks today. Without saying it aloud, Jesus declared that I was acting like the Gentiles. “Hey wait, I am not a Gentile. I am a child of the King. Why am I acting like them?” All of a sudden it felt like my worry and anxiety about the material things in my life was an insult to the goodness of God. What Jesus was actually saying is that we do not need to worry about the things the Gentiles worry about because we have a Father who loves us and who has taken on the role of provider.

When you look at a teaching, a speech or a book, you find that the author wishes to make a point at that conclusion is found at the end. However, it is supported by the evidence and examples which come before. Good writers and speakers give you a topical sentence in the first paragraph which is usually a restatement of their conclusion. Jesus absolutely lays out this entire topic in just such an organized fashion. I immediately began going to the end of the section to find out what his conclusion is but I like his opening. In verse 25 he tells us, “For this reason I say to you do not be anxious for your life.” He then uses the remaining verses to illustrate this reason. As we close in on the end of the passage we discover the reason we need not worry about our material needs is because “your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (Matthew 6: 34) Isn’t that good? Jesus goes on to teach the practical side of this message. He tells us to seek God, seek His kingdom and righteousness and all the things of life will be added to us. That is simply putting all of this in to practice. Don’t worry, instead – seek. That is the cure for anxiety, knowing that you have a heavenly Father who loves you and will care for you. Seek Him and let Him worry about all that “stuff.”

How many of us have (and are) seeking the things, worrying about the things we need: clothes, food, drink, tuition, car etc.? I know I think of those things but Jesus is telling us point blank that is how the Gentiles act, and, hence, not how we should behave. We have a heavenly father. We need to learn how to seek His kingdom and allow Him to be “Father.”

Maybe we can all think about that today as we go through our day. How do I seek God’s kingdom? How do I seek His righteousness? Meditate on that as you have that morning cup of coffee or as you drive to work. The revelations could change your life.

Lastly, let me share with you Jesus’ final thought on the matter, his wrap up conclusion, if you will. “Therefore, do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” You know when you see the word “therefore” that someone is making a conclusion. In other words, because of everything he said in verses 25 through 33, you should not be anxious. Stay in this moment with Jesus rather than casting your concerns forward. Stay ever present and connected with him and with the Father and you will have no need to ever be anxious. That’s good news!