Text: James 1:19-27
Big Idea: An authentic relationship with God will change your life.
Purpose: To inspire people to lives of service.
How does Christianity differ from a philosophy?
Philosophers – try to answer the BIG questions
-How did we get here?
-What is the meaning or purpose of life?
-What are the big problems in out world?
-How can those problems be corrected?
The Christian faith offers answers to those questions
Philosophy – gives a view for how one looks at the world
Christianity – has its own worldview
Philosophy – talks of theories and concepts that are difficult to grasp
-causing some people to think it is a waste of time
Christianity – talk of theology, attributes of God
-and some respond wondering why that knowledge is necessary
Philosophy – literally translated means “lover of wisdom”
Is Christianity more than a philosophy?
-or is it just a good set of ideas?
I hope we can agree – there are ideas that are part of Christianity
-there is a philosophy of life, or view of the world
-that comes with following Christ
My question – Is Christianity just another philosophy?
This month – focusing on spiritual disciplines
-may seem like a philosophical pursuit
-we have talked about prayer, fasting, meditation
-includes scripture reading, devotions, keeping a journal, worship
-today, we conclude our
Movement 1: *The life of faith has two extreme dangers.
1. Dismissing Christ with rigid obligations.
What does this look like?
-trying to fulfill the bare minimum
-list of don’t’s
-avoid swearing, stealing, and I’ll be OK
-go to church on Sunday – AM and PM
-Read my bible every day
Disciplines – are designed to draw us nearer to God
-When they become legalism
-they begin to drive a wedge
There are some for whom
-Prayer – is a daily obligatory drudge
-mealtime, bed time, in church
(this was my error in childhood)
-And then – we pray to get it over
-to fulfill obligation
To be fair – I would rather have a person pray from obligation
-than not pray at all
-saying they don’t want to – going to be authentic
Discipline will sometimes be a struggle
However, If our prayer, discipline, service
-is a way of dismissing God
-and we somehow believe we satisfy Him in this way
-we are missing the joy that we can have in Christ
2. Taking Christ for granted by ignoring His Lordship.
We can emphasize the Grace of Christ – and abuse that truth
-believing that simply intellectually agreeing with the Bible is faith
-and that we do not need to be changed by the gospel
-in any way
Such treatment of Christ’s grace takes Him for granted
Jesus came – calls us to Himself
-and many today – call Jesus friend and Savior
But when Jesus came
-He came with a plan
-plan to build a Kingdom
If you are going to follow Him
-can’t just call Him friend
-without buying into His plan
Jesus even said – you are my friend if you obey me
-not a peer relationship
-we can’t pick and choose when to follow
The book of James is written to people who might be prone to take Christ for granted.
Movement 2: *The practice of Spiritual Disciplines is not limited to thoughts and ideas.
-and many may think it is
-meditation, prayer, reading - all have an inner focus
-but that inner focus is designed to produce an outward change
*Change is not well received in our world today.
-people generally want people to accept them as they are
-and it is a nice sentiment
-and good to be loving to all
God is loving - loves you just the way your are
-but God does not settle to leave you the way you are
-He has a plan to make you holy - perfect
And if you come to Him in Confession - you want this
-you acknowledge that there is something amiss about you
The thoughts and ideas of Christianity change your life
Reverent, Obedient, Compassionate, Consecrated, Trustworthy, Pure, Grateful, Loyal, Industrious, Cheerful
It’s a good code – is it enough to know the words – for this to be meaningful?
-go home after Cadets – yell at parents – fix me something to eat
If a Cadet does that – he may know the code
-but he is not living by it
-and you wonder if he is gaining much from being in Cadets
Christian – can know the Bible, understand ideas, argue theological fine points
-If I have not love – I am nothing
-Furthermore – that love – not just a feeling
-Love is evident in actions
-feeding the hungry
-clothing the naked
-visiting the sick
-This is what Christ sees as love
-this is what He will mention at the judgment day
Movement 3: *True faith will necessarily lead to a life of service.
-can't help it
-focus on God - will learn to value what He values
-He values other people
*Progression of Service:
1. Submit in obedience to His command.
At first, obedience to Christ might be nothing more that submission
-there are times when we must submit – not a desire, but obey
-your first day on a new job – you don’t understand why
-you merely follow instructions
-and in following, you can be productive
-eventually, through the process of repeating, you learn
As we follow Christ – there will be times – just rote obedience
-does not mean that there will never be joy
-in fact, the more you mature, the more you find joy
-even though there will be remnant of sadness until Christ returns
2. Way of growing closer to God
-As you serve, you see how God gives strength
-Youth in Trinidad last year
-As you serve, you learn of God’s love for others
-He makes you aware of His concerns
-you see His hand at work
-You want to grow closer to God
Serve – like going to work with your dad
-see him in a new light
-He is in the business of showing grace and mercy
3. Overflow of a changed life
-As you practice disciplines – life of discipleship
-your life will be changed
-sometimes slowly, sudden bursts of insight and joy
-Your disposition will change
-as you experience the abundance of God’s presence
-you will rejoice and want to respond with love
Start practicing Service
-as a discipline – offered as a service to God
-help someone who is in need
-take moments to act kindly
-this is not the center of a Christian life
-but it is the natural outcome
It is possible to be a philosopher – without being a practitioner
-just because you love wisdom, doesn’t mean you live wisely
-I have known people with PhD’s – utterly foolish in their life choices
But if you are a sincere follower of Christ
-the ideas change your life
-you become like God
-joyful in service
What a gift – joy in service
-joy in material runs out
-joy in money, no more money
-joy in fame – no longer known
-Joy in service – always someone to serve
Experience the joy of serving God