Gospel Deeds

(James 1:17-27) – J G White
11 am, Sun, Sep 2, 2018 – UBC Digby

Do any of you remember the ParticipACTION campaign on TV in the 1980s?
Don’t just think about it
Do it, Do it, Do it
Do it with a friend; you both can bend
Do it for your muscles; it’ll make them hustle
Do it for your feet it’s kind of neat
Do it with some action: ParticipACTION
Don’t just think about it
Do it, Do it, Do it
Participaction: get with the action
Do it, Do it, Do it!

Participaction

As Participaction was to exercise, so is the Bible book of James to the living of our faith.  Be doers of the word, and not hearers only. James 1:22.  People who are doers, who act — they will be blessed in their doing. 1:25.  James is a little book in the Bible that seems to be quite action oriented.

I remember well a young woman in a Bible Study, 15 years ago, reading something about ‘Fat Christians.’  Fat, not in terms of the body, but of the mind. Believers who went to Bible Studies all the time, and read lots of good books, and even went to seminars and special talks. Believers fat on the Bible, but who still did not do what it said much.  Sometimes we don’t need to learn more in our faith, we need to get out there and do what we have been hearing about all along. “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only.” Do it, do it, do it!

At Oasis, our Baptist leadership rolled out a list of six qualities of a healthy church, six markers of a Mission-Edge Church.  One of our leadership’s goals is to have 350 of our congregations be Mission- Edge Churches. Missional. Mission-minded. Whatever you call it; doing mission in their town or village.

We are going to explore these six mission markers over six weeks.  I see them in the book of James. I see these as attractive things to the outsiders – and the insiders.  They describe the kind of local church a person would like to be part of: it has good activity, and real purpose, for the sake of the world around.

So, today, with James 1, consider how we are Helping one another share the Gospel in DEED.  

James 1(19-21) says My dear friends, you should be quick to listen and slow to speak or to get angry.  If you are angry, you cannot do any of the good things that God wants done. You must stop doing anything immoral or evil. Instead be humble and accept the message that is planted in you to save you.  Good communication and good behaviour grow out of the gospel deep in our hearts.  

This Gospel, the Good News, is what?  I’d say it is the story of Jesus, and His invitation to be His disciple and live in the kingdom now.  How do we live it? We learn to do by doing, thank God.

So, how are we doing, Church?  The Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada suggest some signs of Helping one another share the Gospel in DEED.

    • We can name the areas where corporately as a church we are seeking to be an incarnational presence to our local community.

In Christianity we use this word, ‘incarnation’ to talk about how God is in the world ‘in the flesh.’  So we say God is incarnate in Jesus the Christ. But God is also embodied in us. So to share Jesus in our actions is a matter of how we try to be the hands and feet of Jesus in Digby and area now.  

So, can we name the areas where we are seeking to be the presence of Christ around here?

    • We can name the areas where corporately we are seeking to be a blessing to our global community.  

We will look into this more in a few weeks time, but for now, remember that we are a congregation connected with God’s work all over the globe.  We cannot let a special interest group handle it all for us – our Eleanor Timpany Women’s Missionary Society. If that faithful little group folded up and closed, we as a whole would still be part of the web, the network of those working with the Spirit everywhere on earth.

      • We are committed to helping one another as individuals and families be the incarnational presence of Jesus in our neighbourhoods and networks, locally and globally.

So, we help one another do what James tells us. For example: My dear friends, you should be quick to listen and slow to speak or to get angry.  A local church becomes a little training centre for being good listeners, wise in how we speak up, and very careful with our anger.  We are a team, a family, helping each other become more like Christ. Consider this whenever you meet: how are you helping me be like Him, and how I am encouraging you to be like Him?

        • We corporately have chosen local events and places where we will seek to be present.

I met up with a guy at the Wharf Rat Rally from Windsor, who, years ago, lent the Windsor Baptist Church a big flat-bed trailer, and someone to drive a truck to haul it.  We, at the Church, built a float for the Santa Claus Parade of Lights that year.  On the back of the trailer I put my old reed organ – you know, a pump organ.  A bunch of us dressed up in old garb and were Dickensian Xmas Carollers, accompanied by me on the old organ. But at the front of the trailer was a wooden barn, with a manger and hay. [I wish I could project photos for you here and now!] A young couple in Middle-Eastern dress tended to a baby laid in the manger.  We shall always remember, during the parade, one little girl watching along the road, waved excitedly and said, “Hi Mary! Hi Joseph!” You don’t see that at every Santa Claus parade!

That one year, some of us at that Baptist Church decided to be present at that local community event. To be there, in the events of one’s community, is part of our calling.  It’s right up Jesus’ alley.

          • We encourage individuals to connect in their local community, living the life of Jesus incarnationally, as they go.

I think that a local Church that appeals to people on the outside, is one where the members help one another to live in their town representing Christ well.

I feel I have been asked, this summer, tho not in so many words: there must be something you have up your sleeve, Pastor, that we can do to get people into our church.  What is it? Don’t hold out on us!

Well, I try not to keep such things up my sleeve. 🙂  I wear them on my sleeve, so to speak. I believe doing good things for those outside the church is the work of the church. And people who also want to make a difference to others will join us. I believe in being focused upon giving more than on getting.  And people who receive a blessing from us can discover how Jesus was involved in what we did for them. I believe in the ministry – the good work – of individuals, seven days a week. And we should count what each of us does in our day-to-day lives as the good work of God thru the Baptist Church.  

The Christianity we celebrate here on a Sunday is a way of life, life with God, not just the beliefs we have, or our organization, or even the relationship we have with our God.  We don’t just pray about it: we do it, do it, do it!

Let me end my sermon with the same thing Jesus ended His sermon with on the mount. (Mtt 7:25-27, Msg)

If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.  But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”

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