Summary: Church attendance is important but Christianity goes far beyond the church building.
October 2, 2005
Text: James 1:19-27
Subject: True Religion
Title: More Than Church Attendance
I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have said from this pulpit that church attendance is so important to us all. We need to be in church. Hebrews 10:25, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” I do want to encourage all of you to be in church as often as possible. For those of you who may not remember, we do have church on Sunday Evenings at 6:30 and Wednesday at 7:00 and prayer on Friday morning at 8:00. It is important that we come together as often as possible in order to study and hear the word proclaimed and to worship the Lord in song. Every time we come together the Holy Spirit is doing something different. We are at an exciting crossroad for this church body and have great expectations for the things to come.
Now that I have said all that, I want you to listen to what I am about to say next. THERE IS MORE TO BEING A CHRISTIAN THAN CHURCH ATTENDANCE!!! Yes, church attendance is of vital importance for those who are hungry for more of God and who desire to be everything they can be in Him. Church attendance then offers us a place to worship and a time of learning so that we can know what God’s word says to us concerning every situation we might encounter in this life. And then we put the Word into action.
In our passage today James, the brother of Jesus, gives us an outline for living the Christian life. Like so much of what we hear through sermons or read in the bible, the spiritual reality must be transferred to the physical world for it to have real effect. Today, let the Word of God become real for you.
I. CHRISTIANS MUST HAVE RIGHT AMBITIONS. (19-21)
A. Practice the Art of Listening. “Everyone should be quick to listen…” I know a man who is a terrible conversationalist. Part of the problem is that he has a hearing deficiency. The root of the problem is that he would rather talk than listen. He can begin a conversation by asking you a question and interrupt you before you can answer and go off on another tangent. We need to be able to listen. Other people have things to say that are important. Other people need to talk without interruption. Sometimes people just need to vent. We need to learn to listen to others without making any kind of judgment. Just listen! We need to be, “slow to speak…” . People don’t always want advice. They just want someone to listen and be sympathetic. It takes a real burden for people to do that. It’s the kind of burden Jesus had for People. He came to seek and save that which was lost. Notice that Jesus didn’t just come to save. He actively sought out people. He engaged in conversation. He went one-on-one. And He listened. Being quick to listen and slow to speak means you care about people. You have compassion for them. Compassion for people is seen in the way you interact with them.
B. The Act of Holiness. James goes on to say in verse 19-20 that we are to be “slow to become angry 20 for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” Where does anger come from? Did you ever stop to think about that? Why do we get angry? Anger is self-centered. Anger is concerned about “me”. Anger says, “I’m right and everybody else is wrong.” Paul says, “Love is not easily angered or is not self-centered or proud. It keeps no record of wrongs…” All anger does is to keep us form living the way God wants us to live – with love and compassion for others and zeal for Him and His word. Jesus said that all the commandments were rolled up into two – Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself… If you do these things you live the kind of life that God’s expect you to live.
C. The Acceptance of the Word. Verse 21, 21Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. The Word of God, whether written or spoken, cannot effectively work in your life until you separate yourself from moral filth and evil. So everything we have said so far about your relationships with other people, according to the Bible, cannot take hold in you until you have made the conscious decision to get rid of pride and anger and self-centeredness. This word of God cannot change you unless you are willing to let go of things in your life that do not produce love and compassion. Do you have ambitions of being a great Christian? Love God and people. Our core beliefs are stated simply, “Loving God, Trusting God, Loving People. That is all the ambition you need to please God.