For years I heard my pastor at our home church repeat several truths over and over. I always knew that there was great importance in these repeated words that would lend to my spiritual maturity. One of the things I've heard him say countless times is, "when you perfectly understand the concept of Grace, your life will be changed forever". Over the course of a year long sermon series on Grace, several Bible studies about Grace and a year and a half study of theology, these words of my pastors began to take on a real meaning to me. Grace was starting to mean more to me than it ever had before and it was changing the person I was forever.
Fast forward a couple years to last summer, as our family was becoming part of a new church plant. This fresh understanding of grace was birthing a new desire in our hearts. A desire to love in word and in deed. I think if we want to love like this, we have to be very intentional about it.
Even when loving just in word would be easier, less time consuming and safest... we must remember Jesus. When loving in deed would gain us the most attention, or meet the immediate needs for someone.... we must remember Jesus. We must remember the way Jesus loved, He didn't just preach and teach; He feed, healed, restored and walked with. We must remember that no matter how appreciated our deeds are, if we don't share Jesus with those we care for, only their earthly needs are met. We must remember that Jesus is the Word and He is also the Deed!
"But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it say. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. If you listen to the word and don't obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don't forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.... Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." James 1:22-25,27
Here is what Kerry Hasenbalg had to say about the verses above in Seeds of Change.
All who have ears to hear, let them hear what the Spirit of God is saying to the Church! Are we worshipping God with our mouths only, or are we worshipping Him in Spirit and in truth just as He desires and requires of us? God, through the prophet Haggai, continually asked His people to "consider their ways". Let us each consider our ways and compare how we are now living and acting in the light of God's Word.
The Church has understood very clearly Jesus' message that we must "go into the world and preach the gospel". But is this to be interpreted that we simply go and open our mouths? Jesus is our example. And we see clearly that he did not just go and preach but that He was attentive to the physical needs of those around Him. He restored the man's sight and also took away the man's spiritual blindness.
Today, we speak about how Christianity is not about religion, but about relationship. Perhaps this is true, but if so, our relationships with Christ are much like many of our marriages where one spouse is talking and the other is just pretending to listen. But the one talking now is our husband Redeemer. Are we being the attentive bride truly listening, or are we just pretending. We write songs about the Word, sing about the Word, preach on the Word, we have Bible studies about the Word... but in far too many ways we are not living the Word as Jesus asked us to!
Mother Theresa said, "Today it is very fashionable to talk about the poor, but it is not fashionable to talk with them." Maybe it is time we put our action where our faith is, and step out in fellowship with the suffering. Mother Theresa once said, "Whoever the poorest of the poor are, they are Christ for us-Christ under the guise of human suffering."
She knew that she was ministering to Jesus each time she was ministering to the poor. She knew that while she was giving, she was giving to Jesus!
....Religiosity is quite an interesting thing. Those who were the most religious during Jesus' time were the ones with whom Jesus did not associate. They were part of the fellowship of the self-righteous, and He was part of the fellowship of the suffering! In order to join, we must see ourselves as one of them.... poor in spirit. Then we will be free to step out and love as humbly as Christ did, in word and in deed.
When you look in the Word, what do you see that you too often go away and forget to do? How has your love for Christ been merely words and not expressed in love towards Christ in the guise of the suffering? How can you love Christ in deed today?
As we begin to understand grace, we begin to see ourselves as poor in spirit. Then loving in word and deed, just feels like home.