We live in risky times. Sides are being drawn from the White House to the watercooler. Deception is rampant, as are tempers and indignations.
Rumors fly, half-truths circulate, and fingers click on headlines designed to spread viral fear and pestilent propaganda, with high rates of success. We’re still amazingly adept at erecting towers of babble.
People navigate their days with fists-raised, slogans ready, and litmus tests buried like IED’s in everyday conversations. It’s more than a little nerve-wracking for the meek still awaiting the day of our inheritance.
It’s not His desire for us to wrack ourselves with terror, worry, rage, panic, or despair. It’s still His plan for us to represent Christ, even on this slippery slope of personal, social, cultural, political, global shift.
Even if our society is post-Christian, we are not.
So, we ask our Father, how do we now live, love, work, and speak? We need answers now, because it’s a long haul from Sabbath to Sabbath these days.
Knowing the Good Shepherd never abandons His sheep, we turn to Him to guide us and find He’s there. And not only Him, but other sheep who faced similar times, left us words we now find wholly, holy relevant, even with their ancient tone, because God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He doesn’t shift, slip, or slide.
Which is why James, can help us now, even in the lunchroom, the classroom, the chat room, and the dining room. Even from ancient Israel his words instruct today, if we study his writing and seek God in our private prayer room, our war room, our quiet place.
First, James says, count it all joy. Trials of various kind are for the testing of our faith and that produces steadfastness. And if, with this tested faith, we ask God for wisdom, He’ll generously supply. We are blessed who persevere under trial, therefore, we don’t give into despair. Our Father is with us through these troubled times. (James 1)
Second, James instructs, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Embrace the meekness that is core to our sheepness, and act on the truth we know. Let our lives and our choices testify to our God and to His power. Live the pure religion of caring for orphans, widows, and remain unpolluted by the world. Amen? (James 1)
To listen to others unafraid and calm is to disarm them, so as to invite them into the way of love.
Third, our brother says to love our neighbor without showing partiality to the wealthy. Let mercy triumph over judgment. Live in such a way that our acts convict us as followers of Jesus Christ without a deeper investigation. Even if this becomes our earthly condemnation, it will stand as our heavenly defense. (James 2)
Fourth, bridle our tongues and respect the power of words to not only cry Fire in a crowded theater, but to also spread like fire on crowded media. The kingdom of God does not consist in talk, but in power, and this power isn’t found in the wisdom of this world. (James 3, I Corinthians 4:20)
No, God’s wisdom “is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” Does this sound like anything you’ve shared on Facebook recently?
The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us and we represent that Word with every word, all are uttered, written, tweeted, and posted in full view of heaven, loved ones.
Fifth, James who navigated in a society where Christians were hunted wisely advises us to choose our friends cautiously, to embrace humility, to resist the allure of the evil one, and to stick together. We have our differences in the family of God, but what family doesn’t circle the wagons when others come against? (James 4)
Finally, be patient until the coming of the Lord and pray in all things, for the prayers of a righteous person (and are we not righteous in Jesus Christ?) have great power in their working. (James 5)
Prayer is not a phone call to Dad requesting money for more comforts while we’re traveling afar, but a warrior’s cry from an isolated outpost of glory – for instruction, fresh ammunition, and a swift end to the war, so we can all go home.
We speak less now than we ever have, but not from fear or because we’re confused about the truth.
Silence is a sanctuary where we find ourselves listening more, considering our actions, and communicating with the One who knows what tomorrow will bring.
You cannot tell we’re listening because you cannot hear His voice, drowned out by the babble. Pray for mercy and for ears that hear. We don’t look like much now, but us meek sheep, we inherit the earth.
— Lori Roeleveld (@lorisroeleveld) May 11, 2017