Summary: There's a difference between church people who are "hearers" and those who are "doers." Do you know the difference? And do you know how to tell which group you're in?
OPEN: I read once about a certain Chinese church, where – when converts were baptized for the forgiveness of sins – when they came up out of the water they were told: “Now, Jesus has new eyes. And Jesus has new hands. And Jesus has new feet.”
When we became Christians, we became the eyes and hands and feet of Jesus. We became extensions of Christ. We now represent Jesus, and when people see us they should see Jesus in us.
That’s kind of what James is saying here in our text this morning: “…(God) brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” James 1:18
God saved us so we could be first fruits, so that we could be examples to others of what it means to be a Christian.
But now, the problem here is that doesn’t always work out real well. Christians don’t always reflect Jesus as well as we’d like. And one of the main reasons Christians fail in this is because they’ve listened to some false information - some fake news.
This sermon series we’re doing this month is called “Fake News”. Not political Fake News (about Politicians and the News Media, etc.). Instead we’re talking about spiritual Fake News - fake news that often infiltrates the church and warps Christians.
Last week we talked about a Fake News called the “Prosperity Gospel.” It’s a heresy that teaches people fake things about God and His promises. But that kind of heresy comes from the OUTSIDE. The Prosperity teachers flood us with DVDs and Books and TV programs etc. that teach people how to manipulate God so they can get health, and wealth… and whatever else.
But, frankly most people don’t need any help trying to manipulate God. They’re quite good at this type of thing all on their own. People have been doing this type of thing for centuries… and not just in the church. Pagan religions thrive on getting their god to do what they want done if they manipulate that god enough for their needs.
But why do people do that? Why do they tend to make their relationship with God all about themselves? Well, I can think of at least 2 reasons that happens. The first is that we’re all kind of selfish – we tend to focus on ourselves first.
ILLUS: A few years back the Washington Post had a poll that showed that 79% of Americans believed they were “above average” in appearance, and 86% felt they were above average in intelligence (2006 poll). Now excuse me… what’s average? 50%! Some of these folks at a vastly exaggerated view of their good looks and intelligence. But here’s the deal - when people think like that, it’s not hard for them to think church, and their relationship with God, is all about them. “I want what I want, because I deserve what I want. I’m better than the “average” person.”
The 2nd reason people can think their relationship with God is all about them is because – that’s how we treat them when they first walk in the door and when they’re baptized into Christ. We bring them, we pamper them, and we try not to upset them. And we tend to feel like it’s kind of our fault if they leave. Thus, they can get very self-centered. Amy Grant had a song about that that she sang years ago (I’ve trimmed it down a little)
“I know a man, maybe you know him, too. You never can tell; he might even be you... His spiritual tummy, can't take too much; one day a week, he gets a spiritual lunch. On Sunday, he puts on his spiritual best and gives his language a spiritual rest.
He's just a fat… fat little baby, he wants his bottle and he don't mean maybe.
He's been baptized, sanctified, redeemed by the blood but his daily devotions are stuck in the mud. He knows the books of the Bible and John 3:16; he's got the biggest King James that you've ever seen.
But he's just a fat… fat little baby.” (Songwriters: Rodney S. Robison / Steve Millikan)
That’s what coddled Christians look like. Fat little babies. And do you know what babies do when they don’t get what they want, when they want it? They cry and fuss… and they pitch a fit. And that’s what happens to Christians who don’t grow up. They think the church is all about them and so they manipulate things, and if they can’t get their way, they’ll pitch a fit!
And James says: don’t DO that… don’t GO there. GROW UP!!!!
“… 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