Aloha Friday Message – September 18, 2015 – WWJRD?

1538AFC091815 – WWJRD?

Read it online here, please.

James 3:16 – Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice.

This passage is taken from the New American Bible (Revised Edition) © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

WWJRD? Here the R stands for Really; What Would Jesus Really Do? The simple answer is: The right thing. It’s just that sometimes all of us have a little difficulty recognizing that. Here’s a little story from several years back that illustrates what I mean:

A Christian and a Quarter

Several years ago, a preacher from out-of-state accepted a call to a church in Houston, Texas. Some weeks after he arrived, he had an occasion to ride the bus from his home to the downtown area. When he sat down, he discovered that the driver had accidentally given him a quarter too much change. As he considered what to do, he thought to himself, “You’d better give the quarter back. It would be wrong to keep it.” Then he thought, “Oh, forget it, it’s only a quarter. Who would worry about this little amount? Anyway, the bus company gets too much fare; they will never miss it. Accept it as a “gift from God” and keep quiet.”

When his stop came, he paused momentarily at the door, and then he handed the quarter to the driver and said, “Here, you gave me too much change.”

The driver, with a smile, replied, “Aren’t you the new preacher in town?”

 “Yes” he replied.

“Well, I have been thinking a lot lately about going somewhere to worship. I just wanted to see what you would do if I gave you too much change. I’ll see you at church on Sunday.”

When the preacher stepped off of the bus, he literally grabbed the nearest light pole, held on, and said, “Oh God, I almost sold your Son for a quarter.”

Our lives are the only Bible some people will ever read. This is a really scary example of how much people watch us as Christians, and will put us to the test! Always be on guard — and remember — You carry the name of Christ on your shoulders when you call yourself “Christian.”

And how to we make those choices? Let’s take a look at Philippians 2:5Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus. Paul consistently tells us that we need to model our lives in the image and form of the life of Christ. There is an interesting preposition in this passage that conveyed that quite clearly to the Philippians – and to us if we are attentive: also in Christ Jesus. The preposition there is έν [en]. The connotation is of something that is permanently and naturally (uncontrived) unchanging in place, time, or condition, something that is an integral part of the location or entity. Jesus’ attitude of love, ἀγάπη (agapé) [ag-ah’-pay)] was and is a permanent, natural, integral aspect of Jesus as Lord. That’s the kind of LOVE Paul is reminding us Jesus commanded us to cultivate and share.

To me the verse, “Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus” now comes out as “Ensure that your disposition toward all things is identical to the predominant and fundamental disposition of Christ: Perfectly modest, humble, and unselfish and utterly consecrated to the service of God and one another. Paul has an uncanny way of packing 10 pounds of meaning into a 3 pound jar! We are obliged to live in and be governed by our conscience – even if we don’t accept the idea that there is God and Salvation and Eternal Life. Our conscience requires that we submit to authority and that we serve one another. The Supreme Authority is God. Whoever serves all is the greatest among us. Whatever we do should be done in love, not defiance, and therefore should not be judgmental but instead should be charitable. Just as we cannot make faith work without doing good things for each other, we cannot make faith work by doing bad things to each other. 1 John 4:16 So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. When we try to use the power of God’s Love to serve our own ambitions, we do not abide in love. WWJRD? Abide in Love – always and all ways.

To do the right thing – the thing that Jesus would do – takes Wisdom. Do you remember this little fish? It points to Proverbs 9:10. The Wisdom we need begins when we reverence God. This is what James calls “Wisdom from above.” Let’s take a look at today’s topic-verse in context by looking at James 3:13-18:

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. 15 Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace. “Gentleness born of wisdom” is the gentleness that comes from humility that is rooted in a deep faith in God. If we are instead puffed up with pride and selfish ambition, we stir up discord and trouble in every activity. Remember. “What we do says who we are. Actions speak louder than words.” When our actions are based in the kind of faith that leads us to love God and neighbor even as Christ has done, then we have Wisdom that is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. Sincere, unbiased service to God and neighbor is the kind of service that produces the good works James spoke of earlier (See James 2:14-18) when he told his community (and us) that faith without works is dead. What, then, is the work we should do?

The will of our Father is to believe in the Son, to be his disciples in the same way the Apostles are his disciples. We learn from him, we live in him, we serve others for him, and we know God through him. When Jesus is Lord, we declare his Lordship by using the Gifts of the Spirit. It is only through the Spirit that we can say, “Jesus is Lord.” (See 1 Corinthians 12 especially verse 3) As his disciples, we are commissioned to make disciples of all nations (See Matthew 28:19-20). We carry out that task by serving others because we serve God in Christ Jesus – we Love God in the same way God through Christ loves us. That Way, Truth, and Light precludes jealousy and selfish ambition. If you look around and see yourself surrounded by (or infected by) disorder and every foul practice, then Worldly Wisdom (which is folly) is in charge. That’s our cue to reset our priorities and look to God first and always (See Matthew 6:33). We know this is true because it really is what Jesus told us to do. He said it. I believe it. I’m sticking to it! Like the new Preacher, we all need to remember that sometimes the only Bible others will read is our lives.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved!

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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