Our readings this morning i.e. the set of verses in Gospel of Mark chapter 7: 1-8, 14-15 and 21-23 coupled with the epistle reading of James chapter 1 verses 17 to 27 point to this fact (among others) that our outward doings should reflect our being. Therefore, today’s theme is: The Being Should Equate to the Doing. Put mathematically,

Being = Doing

Where Being represents who we are in Christ i.e. Born Again Christians and Doing meaning doers of the word of God.

Let us pray- ‘Father of lights with whom there is no shadow; giver of every good and perfect gift’ let your word reflect our true nature; to see who we are and work towards being what you want us to be. Open our eyes Lord that we may behold wondrous things from your word. We ask this prayer in the Name of our Saviour Jesus Christ, our Lord- amen.

In our epistle reading today, James tells his initial readers of his letter (who were obviously Christians of Jewish descent, but not necessarily living in Jerusalem at that time; but ‘scattered among the nations’) that God took the initiative- chose and gave them new birth. This definitely applies to us too. God chose and gave us new birth- born again Christians. That is what God has made us to be; that is our being.

Being reminded of who they were, James then picked on a couple of things they should address. The things James mentioned, hmm, are somehow strange to be occurring among born-again Christians. Do we find some of these things among us as Christians? Let us examine the concerns James apparently was spending his energy and time for those Christians to be aware of and do something to address them. The emphasis here is DO something! James in this passage, as put in the NIV, mentioned:

1. Unbridled, untamed tongue

2. Prevalent moral filth and evil

Strong words to describe these apparently fine Christians worshipping God in different parts of the world at that time. Now let us ask ourselves this question- does that describe our kind of Christianity? If James would send a letter to us, what do you think he would be bringing to our attention? Well, for those Jewish Christians in the Apostolic Age- James’ major concerns for them (within the ambit of our passage) were: untamed tongue, moral filth and evil among them. I wonder what kind of moral filth and evil were prevalent among those Christians at that time.

Again I find such things strange to be mentioned among Christians. What do you think the Holy Spirit would be calling our attention to in this day and age; even as He inspired James to write to those Christians at that time? Is the Holy Spirit saying the same thing to us; as He did when He inspired James to write to those Jewish Christians?

James did not only tell those Christians at that time their apparent problem; he also gave them an antidote; which was they should be doers of the word of God. In other words, James was telling them that they were seemingly fine Christians in that they spent time to worship the Lord through songs, prayers and the reading of the scriptures. But when it came to practical holiness (hmm) they were not doing fine. Put in our context, we mat say they were very good churchy Christians- they had wonderful praise and worship time in church, powerful prayer time and quite conversant with biblical jargons like justification, sanctification, eschatology, you name them. But when it came to practical holiness- spending time to let their lives touch people outside their family and friends; they were not fine in that. They were churchy Christians- doing church in a nice way that would move one’s emotions. But they were not touching Christians- their lives outside the church were not touching those outside their circle of friends and families- the orphans and widows. James concluding words to them, in today’s passage were: ‘Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world’.

Is James making the same conclusion to us today? Is he telling us that it is good to be churchy Christians but it is better if we are both churchy and touching the lives of those outside our immediate circle? I believe God wants our being to equate to our doing all the time and not only in the church- our lives adequately touching the lives of people around us. For God has chosen us and given us new birth. Therefore our lives should tenderly and passionately touch those outside our circle- praying for them and physically helping them in whatever way we can.

It is very easy for us to be perfectionists in churchy things; e.g. some of our church rituals of prayer (the way and how we pray), our inspirational way of singing, our nice Christian expressions in the way we say things- ‘how are you brother? Oh praise the Lord!’ ‘Stay bless my sister’, etc, etc. Good mannerisms though. But in the words of Jesus to the Pharisees and Scribes (in today’s Gospel reading) we must however lay emphasis on the things that relate to avoiding bad human relationships which Jesus catalogued as: ‘fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice [i.e. greed, covetousness, materialism], wickedness, deceit, licentiousness [i.e. immorality], envy, slander, pride, folly’; as worded in the Revised Standard Version.

May God make us doers of His word; so that our lives will touch all around us. Let us pray:

‘Master, speak! and make [us] ready,

When Thy voice is truly heard,

With obedience glad and steady

Still to follow every word.’