“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” ~ James 1:22
This morning in drama rehearsal we had one of those moments where everyone had to stop and laugh for a minute. During a scene, one student delivered her line perfectly, looking at the student she was talking to the entire time. He didn’t flinch, glance at her or even acknowledge that she had spoken – he was looking at the rest of the action going on across the stage. I stopped the scene and informed him that he needed to react, to which he replied, “React to what?”
No, he wasn’t being sarcastic. He genuinely didn’t realize that he hadn’t responded at all to the girl talking to him. He’d been so busy paying attention he’d missed what he was supposed to be doing.
After I arrived back at home, I thought about the fact that this problem isn’t unique to actors learning their lines in a play. In fact, more often than we’d like to admit, it happens to Christians, too. You see, as an actor you read the same lines over and over again, to the point that they almost lose their meaning and you have to be taught how to respond. Things that you would naturally react to in real life go unnoticed in a script, because you’ve heard the words so many times.
If you are a Christian who has grown up in the church, you run the risk of this same callousness occurring in your spiritual life. We can read the Bible and hear the words taught from the pulpit on Sundays, but sometimes we’ve heard them so often we aren’t even reacting to what they say. We listen, but we don’t engage.
God obviously knew that would be something we would struggle with, and inspired James to pen the verse for today. God very clearly wants us to do more than just listen – He wants us to react! We need to hear His words and follow them. If we don’t, James leaves nothing to doubt about the rest: we are only fooling ourselves that we are following Him.