Saturday, May 12, 2012

Doers of the Word

Lately I've gotten the impression that biblical study has taken a backseat to pastoral leadership.  Although it seems this would be counter intuitive, nonetheless with the continual rise (and fall) of ecclesiastical superstars who appear to put a large emphasis on action it raises the question as to how much time they are actually spending in the study of God's Word.

I am not against action and believe that unless we put feet to what we read in the Word we will miss out on a vital part of what it means to be disciples of Christ.  Nonetheless, minimizing true study of the Word in lieu of action only creates the opposite problem. Instead of stagnant, armchair theologians you wind up with immature workers (or workaholics) who are, at best, biblically illiterate and at worse heretics. 

 James 1:22-25 is a great cathartic to those who are merely hearers of the Word and forget that true theology is incarnational and should drive one to the gutters and streets to where the sick are so that they can meet the Great Physician.  Additionally, the real point of James admonishment was not to tell people to stop reading Scripture but that study must culminate in right action.  To read God's word and yet to continue in sin is simply looking at yourself in the mirror and walking away, forgetting what you looked like. Study of the Word and right doing of the Word are both required.

 I suppose this tension between too much study and not enough action and too much action and not enough study will (and perhaps should) always exist in a believers life.  It is when we get stuck in one extreme or the other that problems arise.  How much is too much?  Only the individual believer can ultimately answer this and that is why I suggested "should" always exist parenthetically above.  To keep balanced we are going to have to have such a relationship with God that we can hear the Holy Spirit's warnings when we are getting too lopsided.  Only then will we know how to "choose the better part" (Lk 10:42), to be like Bereans (Acts 17:11) or to visit the widow and the orphan (Js.1:27) and to visit  the sick and those in jail and to clothe the naked (Matt. 25:31-46).  It will be a dynamic tension that flows back and forth and results in believers who are both filled with the Word of God and yet, at the same time, working the works of God in a way that leaves people knowing that they have experienced a divine visitation.

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