It’s always very gratifying for a preacher when someone from the congregation comes up and tells you that they’ve actually been putting into practice the things you’ve been saying from the pulpit.
This happened twice to me last Sunday. The week before I had introduced our new sermon series, The Art of Neighboring, with a challenge to our congregation to love our actual neighbors, the real people who live near us. While we may all agree that we should love our neighbors, we tend to take this metaphorically, and imagine that it means “love everybody” while forgetting to love the actual neighbors we have.
So, two stories were shared with me. One was from a lady in the church who told me, as a result of the challenge, she had cleaned up all the trash from the common areas of her apartment complex, and swept out everyone’s car port. The other story was from a man, who took the time to go and knock on the door of his 90 year old neighbor and ask him how he was doing. The man replied that he’d actually been very lonely, and would my friend have time to come in and chat? He did, and for a while at least, the loneliness of an old man was assuaged.
This is very biblical. For many of us, the KNOWLEDGE of what we should do is not the problem. It’s the actual doing of it. When churches focus on knowledge-based discipleship rather than obedience-based discipleship, this is hardly surprising.
Are we building on rock or sand?
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27)
It’s the putting into practice that is the key, not just hearing the words.
And again from the book of James:
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. (James 1:22-25)
So my challenge to you today is simply this: what is it you know you should be doing, but aren’t? And what are you going to do about it?