We see our reflection all the time- we look at ourselves in the mirror we see our reflection in doors, windows, and sometimes even a mud puddle. We want to make sure we look good; our cow lick is brushed down, our clothes are straight, our make-up is even, and to all the men- make sure you didn’t miss a spot shaving. But how much effort do we put into sharing with others an adequate reflection of Christ in our life- sharing what’s on the inside. Our inner beauty is vastly more important than our external beauty.
We put a lot of time and energy into looking good on the outside- choosing the right outfit, the perfect shade of lipstick, anti-wrinkle cream etc. and we make a point to tell people- you look beautiful today! And a myriad of other complements about external beauty.
We are a beauty obsessed culture. All but one pop culture magazine I saw this week had something about beauty on the cover. Who’s too fat, who’s too skinny, who looks best without makeup?
We forget very quickly that what God sees as beautiful is not what is on the outside- but the things that make the soul beautiful; being quick to listen, slow to anger, ridding ourselves not of wrinkles but wickedness, adding love and kindness not lotion and cucumber slices to our daily beauty routine. Taking time to hear and do the word of God- this is what makes us beautiful.
Our scripture lesson today goes on to remind us that we can’t just be hearers of the Word, we have to be doers as well. This is akin to expecting to get skinny by reading a fitness magazine; going to the gym and watching others work out while eating ice cream and never putting tennis shoes on.
We have access to more information than we could ever dream about fitness and healthy diets and there is a new skin care product coming on the market nearly daily--- we have the information but at some point you have to put it into action. I know I should eat my fruits and veggies—but that cheeseburger just looks too good!
Our inner beauty is the same way- God gave us all the information we need- the Bible and there are more books about the Bible than we could ever read. We teach children from an early age the song “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, a light unto my path” but we have to read it, learn about it, talk about it with others, understand it, and do it! It doesn’t matter where the light is shining if we never intend to take a step off the porch.
Just like those fitness magazines- religion is worthless if we don’t put what we learn in church and read about in the Bible into action! The word of God has the Power to Save!!!!! If we use it.
I am sure many of us have taken a CPR class at some point. We spend a few hours in class, read a book, watch a video, listen to someone talk about it then practice on each other or a plastic manikin, and at the end we get a nice little card. It’s all good information to have- if we are willing to use it. CPR saves lives. The American heart association states that CPR can double or triple a person’s chance for surviving a sudden cardiac arrest. Taking a CPR class is no use though if we don’t do anything with the information we learn. Many people still feel reluctant to use CPR in the real world though- even when they have passed the class. They worry about taking charge-I don’t think I know it well enough, maybe someone else will help. What if I do it wrong? Do I really want to help THAT person? What if they don’t want to be saved? But, doing nothing means this person will die.
Yet, some of us do this. We are willing to come to church, listen to scripture, talk about it in Sunday school, sing about it, practice the teachings with others in the church and claim it’s lifesaving power for ourselves but when it comes to using what we have learned to save someone else’s life outside the church, we fail to follow through with the doing part. We have the knowledge and information necessary to save lives but are we willing to share it with others? Do we worry- What if they ask me a question I can’t answer? Maybe someone else will do it. Do I really want to save THAT person? Maybe they don’t want to be saved? What is preventing you from sharing the lifesaving power of the Word of God with others?
James reassures us in this passage though that we will be blessed in the doing! Maybe it is sharing your faith with a stranger, inviting someone to worship or Bible study, maybe it is doing kindness and giving selflessly to someone in need- You will be blessed. I have often heard when people return from a mission trip, seeking to do the will of God, that they often feel like they were blessed more than those they intended to help.
God just wants us to try. Take what He has given us and use it, do something with it. You don’t have to lace up and go from couch potato to marathoner in a day- take a baby step- start with walking around the block. Just step off the porch and see where the light of God’s word is leading you. He won’t ask you to do something without equipping you. Let other’s see your inner beauty- the place in your soul where God reigns by doing the Word of God- share your inner beauty secret with others. Have the image you see in the mirror be an accurate reflection of Christ in this world.
As you come forward in a few minutes for communion. I invite you to take a moment and pause at the alter for prayer. Reflect on your own life- Can others see Christ in my doing? Is my life an adequate appreciation of the Sacrifice Christ made for me? Someone took the time to share Christ with me and save my life- am I willing to share that lifesaving information with someone else who needs it?