SCRIPTURE: James 2:1 (TM) - larger reading James 2:1-13
My dear friends, don't let public opinion influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith.
Alison Bucklin shares this story: A dozen or so years ago, a Romanian pastor came to visit the church I belonged to. He had gotten to know my pastor, John Vawter, who had been involved in a Bible-smuggling ministry when the Iron Curtain was still up. John asked him what he thought of our country, and of the church in this country. His friend was at first hesitant to speak, for fear of giving offense, but finally said that in his opinion the American church was rich in material things but poor in spiritual things. And by that he did NOT mean that we were the blessed "poor in spirit" whom Jesus commended. No, what he meant was that American Christians by and large had a flabby faith because it was rarely even exercised, much less tested.
What did we do before we had the never-ending public opinion polls? How did we know whom to vote for? Which issues to work on? What apparel to purchase? Which coffee to buy? Which city to live in? What car to drive? So much of our lives are “controlled” by public opinion polls… or so it seems.
James writes about the downside of allowing public opinion to dictate what we believe and how we should express that faith in the market place. A trap has been set. The jaws of that trap have sprung shut. We are have gotten caught. This has resulted in a “flabby faith”.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be popular, accepted, included… but at what cost. The older I get the more I desire an easier daily routine… and a daily dose of Four-Bucks-Coffee. But should it be this way?
As energy levels change and responsibilities shift finding new and exciting ways to live out the Christ-originated faith that isn’t driven by public opinions or shaped by what is the latest and greatest thing in religious life, i.e. the “Duck Dynasty” faith based thinking, becomes increasingly harder and harder. Be careful about those hidden traps… their teeth are sharp and unforgiving.
As I have often said to my congregations: “What you desire and want is interesting. What your opinion might be on any particular issue could be fascinating. But in reality, the only opinion that matters and the only thing of lasting interest are God’s opinion and his desires. Everything else, while attractive, is nothing more than a trap waiting to snag us and keep us from being who God has called us to be.”
The choice is either a flabby faith driven by public opinion or a Christ-originated faith driven by a God-centered life.
Help us get moving so that flabbiness of our faith will be worked off so that we can become stronger and spiritually healthier.