Friday, September 12, 2014

Hearing with the Heart

For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. James 1:3

An American missionary in Africa wanted to translate the English word faith into the local dialect. He could not find its equivalent. So he went to an old sage, who was himself a fine Christian, for help in rendering the needed word into understandable language. The guru studied it, and finally said, “Does it not mean to hear with the heart?”

What does faith mean to you?
How would you explain it to someone who does not speak English? How do you explain it to yourself?
In order to fully understand what James mean by the testing of our faith, we need to fully be honest with ourselves about what faith means. Does it mean going to Church on Sunday? Does it mean putting more in the offering plate? Does it mean reading your Bible every day?

Most Bible translation will render James 1:3 as "testing of your faith". The KJV translates this verse as "the trying of your faith." Have you ever been tried? I know my kids have tried me on many occasions growing up. Fortunately I never had had to go to a trial and stand before a judge. I never had to live through a series of witnesses telling about me. I never had a group of jurors declaring me guilty or not guilty, when they never met me. I never had to see the gavel go down on my verdict. 

What would it look like today, if my faith was put on trial? Would I be found guilty or not guilty? Would I pass or would I fail? Would I fail and persevere or would I give up?

How about you? How is your faith? How is it when all is well? How is it when nothing makes sense and God's presence is a distant memory?

Adolf Hitler could not silence pastor Martin Niemöller, and kept him imprisoned for seven-and-a-half years. His ministry during and after incarceration was courageous and constructive. Having read many of his books and heard him during frequent trips to America, I was pleased that he granted me an interview in the Ecumenical Center in Frankfurt. He was warm and outgoing, repeating frequently, “We are responsible for mankind.”
Toward the end of our visit he said: “Christianity is not an ethic, nor is it a system of dogmatics, but a living thing. One cannot deal with God in solitude or in remoteness only, but in the struggles of life.”

How is your study of James coming along? Will you be joining us? Let us know if you do, we would love to pray for you.

You can download the James Study right here.