Focal Passage: James 1:22-27
If we believe that the Word is God-breathed, dangerous, and
points to Christ — how must we respond? Do we listen attentively and politely
only to walk away untouched by the radical demands each word makes upon us, or
are we literally transformed by its translation of our quotidian lives into the
life of Christ?
James, without reservation or hesitation states: “Be doers
of the word and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.”
He explains that the hearer is like a person looking into a
mirror — he/she either forgets or acts upon what has been seen.
In the classic Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan speaks of a
mirror shown to characters Christiana and Mercy:
“Now the glass was one of a thousand. It would present a
man, one way with his own features exactly; and turn it but another way and it
would show him the very face and similitude of the Prince of pilgrims Himself.
Yea, I have talked with those that can tell, and have said they have seen the
very crown of thorns upon His head by looking into the glass; they have therein
also seen the holes in his hands, in his feet, and His side. The man who
continues looking into the mirror of God’s Word sees in it things far more
wonderful than his own face. He sees not only his filthy garments, not only the
spots and stains on his life; he sees in it Christ, the Christ of the
thorn-crowned brow, the Christ of the Cross, his Saviour, whose blood cleanses
him from all sin.”
Is it possible to stand before the mirror of God’s Word and turn
away without responding?
James admits that there are those who do and “immediately
forget what they were like.”
Then there are those who are impelled to respond:
A story from the 18th century tells about a missionary who
had a mirror out in the bush hung on a tree for shaving. One day the local
witch doctor happened by and curiously looked into the strange glass.
When she saw her hideously painted features she jumped back!
Without hesitation, she tried to bargain with the missionary for the mirror.
Though he didn’t want to give it to her, he realized that
she wasn’t going to give up, so he gave her the mirror. Once she had possession
of it, she threw it to the ground breaking it into pieces, shouting, “There …
it won’t be making ugly faces at me anymore!”
Before the Word of God we see ourselves as we truly are and
thus respond practically towards the other we encounter — “care for orphans and
widows in distress” — and realistically towards ourselves —“keep(ing) oneself
unstained by the world” (1:27).
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