FAITH IN ACTION
Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
James 1:22-25 (ESV)
Modern culture has shifted American Christianity’s focus from being inwardly and outwardly to just being inwardly. You might have heard the modern phrase, “Christianity is not a religion; it’s a relationship.” As great as that sounds, and as important a relationship with God is, the adoption of that phrase in our culture has been at the Church’s expense. As people have begun to focus inwardly only, they have seemed to abandon their outward service. This is evident in church attendance.
In 1990, 20.4 percent of the population attended an Orthodox Christian church on any given weekend. In 2000, that percentage dropped to 18.7 percent and to 17.7 percent by 2004. On top of that, the U.S. population has grown by 18.1 percent—more than 48 million people! The growth of the people attending church on the weekend is steadily declining despite the steady increase of population.
Because of our newly-adopted emphasis on the relationship rather than the religion, people in America have been abandoning going to church because they don’t see much that benefits them. The term “church shopping” has been a result of our consumer culture, as people have begun to look for churches to suit their needs rather than looking to suit the needs of the church!
Don’t get me wrong. A relationship with God is at the very heart of every Christian’s life, but we must also not forget about our call to serve others. We are not just called to lock ourselves up in our rooms to pray and read the Bible, but also to be doers of the Word by getting involved in our churches and being the Church.
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:12 (NIV)
We, the Church, are the body of Christ. If we adopt a loner type of Christianity, we will become like a body part, a mere toe or a finger—useless without the body and taking away from the full glory of Christ. But if we choose to be doers of the Word and not just hearers, we can expand His Kingdom like never before, and we will grow in our individual relationships with God more than we ever thought we could.
For you, being a doer of the Word might be starting to attend church, starting a Bible study, serving the poor, doing community service, or even holding the door for the person behind you when you walk into the grocery store! Whatever it is, I encourage you to focus your faith inwardly as well as outwardly, because something special will happen when your relationship with God begins to manifest itself in your service.