Friday, September 12, 2008

Ibidum Ad Nauseum

Sub-titled: Common Courtesy and the Couch-Potato Cruise-Control Kingdom of Christ

James 2:18-22 But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.

I had an e(mail) discussion the other day with a friend of mine; it was apparent he hasn’t been reading my Blog. In MYPOD’s Ears Are Itching I discussed the disconnect of the body from the Head – namely Christ, and how our comfort and self satisfaction has become our primary focus in this world. It is as if we have been lulled to sleep by the fatted golden calves of our time which feed our flesh, and feed on our spirits.

Our schedules are full and our wallets empty, so the resources of grace that God has blessed us with are depleted. We’ve checked out in deference to our right to spiritual slumber. It’s time for an awakening thunder.

Back to my friend…we were discussing and debating our rights versus our responsibilities as Christian brothers (one to another). His contention is that a direct request for help neither requires action or response on his part.


I pointed out the obvious error of that statement that to date the only response is from the crickets. He’s not alone. There have been a number of occasions in which I was coordinating different efforts to raise money, or help meet the various needs of brothers and sisters in Christ, some of which were close friends or relatives of those we were soliciting, only to be met with the Sin of Indifference.

My brothers and sisters this ought not be. If you are tempted to stake claim to your “right of refusal,” take that thought captive and submit it to the obedience of Christ - who for the joy set before Him endured the cross scorning it’s shame. Please don’t lecture me about being are “under grace not works”; copping that plea is simply copping out.
Show me your faith by what you say, and I will show you my faith by what I do. (ibid)

And spare me the notion that we have no “requirement” to respond to a direct request for help. To simply ignore such a request is the stuff of darkness. Even the non-Christian people I know understand and practice the principle of common courtesy. In this case silence is not golden, unless we’re talking about that golden calf of self-interest. Even if the answer is “I can’t at this time” it is at least a response.

So, what could be the argument that would support the “right” to ignore? We have so many examples in scripture that directly refute this model. The Good Samaritan is a perfect one, yet somehow there are people that I personally know that take the way of the Priest or the Levite, suggesting that they are somehow “above it all.” “That’s not my ‘ministry’” or “I don’t have the ‘grace’ for that right now.” Excuse me?!!!

We are called to be salt and light.

Sometimes the salt is found in the sweat. If we never break one – how can we be tasted? It is also found in the tears of the cheek, but if we aren't available to "mourn with those that mourn" then our spiritual diet is bland or bitter.

“Light-bearers” are also burden-bearers, which often requires us to be our own pallbearers to get our flesh out of the way of the Spirit. If we fight against the weight of our sloth and nail to the cross, interestingly it becomes easier to take up and follow. Yokes become easier and burdens lighter in obedience.

We are good about giving lip-service to the concept of “community.” For many that simply means parties, going out to dinner, or maybe even a small home group provided the night and time-slot is convenient. The Truth is - it ain’t always about the goodies.

Sometimes it’s about the grunt work that brings the grace: the hospital visits, the late night phone chats, painting a few walls, working on vehicles, mowing a lawn, buying a lunch, and sometimes it is simply the cold hard cash.

Knowing what is right to do and not doing it is sin. (James 4:17) That James fella is a
tough hombre!

We need to understand we are not our own, we are bought with a price, a very high precious price. That means our resources are no our own either, which will often include encroachments on our time and space. I once saw a quote that said, “Any problem that can be fixed by writing a check is not a problem, it’s an expense.” We’ve embraced the ledger mindset that sees writing a check as a valid alternative to investing ourselves.

I have served on a worship team at a local church for about the last three years. It is time consuming and at times financially burdomesome. I know others who serve their churches in similar fashion whether through music or teaching etc. The temptation is to have the "gave at the office" mentality and shrink back from service of other kinds. I know some who think that fills their "requirement." As long as we see good works as "works" we will miss the moment and the blessing.

One of our favorite charities is Habitat for Humanity (
Jimmy Carter notwithstanding). It is one thing to send them money and quite another to put on the work gloves and boots and show up to help build a house. Another of our favorite charities is The Salvation Army. A few years back we loaded up the kids on Thanksgiving morning and went and helped serve lunch. Wow. No check or envelope of cash could ever replace what we received in serving that day. Our Father knows this.

Serving others doesn’t just meet their need in that moment; it brings life to the servant as well. It has nothing to do with spiritual pride, or some religious merit badge, it has to do with being intimate with others and in so doing being partakers of the Divine Nature of Christ. I am still incredulous at the apathy I have seen from some of my brothers and sisters who profess their faith yet cry foul when challenged by it, or ignore it altogether.

Well Wah! Just Wah!

Get off your couch-potato butts, on your knees, and over yourselves, and thank God somebody thought enough of you to help you in your times of need. Freedom in Christ is not about the credit account to self, but dying to it. Its’ about recognizing and responding to “the
least of these my brethren.”

It’s funny how we are good at resisting this kind of challenge to serve, yet so poor at resisting sin which always, always, always points to self. It's time we disengage the cruise control devices and exercise some self-control for the Kingdom of God.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual[a] act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:1,2


Anonymous said...

Boy that was good. Sometimes we all need a pat on the back or a kick in the butt.

The best christian men I know never had to tell me they were christians because one could tell by their behavior, speach, and actions.

Their witness to Christ was the example they set day after day and double that on Sunday.

The gate is small and the path is narrow. I guess I'd better start by loosing some weight and getting off my new recliner.

The Trailing Arbutus

Nichole said...

Great stuff! Hmm, been reading the Harris' boys stuff on and it is a charge to the young people to step up and "Do Hard Things"....I love the thoughts on salt and light...can I quote you?

Tim Michael said...

honored any time someone deems my words worthy to be repeated. :)

"Do the hard things" is a concept we as a body seem to shrink from appropriating in our lives. It is a terrific and terrifying challenge because it comes at great cost and yet it pays huge dividends.

Love to the Wise Peoples!