Read This Week’s Passage: James 1:19–27

A Public Religion

With the cultural shift toward the privatization of religion, faith practices have become more and more inward focused. Children are told to silently accept Jesus into their heart; prayers of thanksgiving for a meal are said with a bowed head and unmoving lips; and some believers may even search for another way to answer the question, “What are you doing this weekend?” when their plans are filled with ministry and godly fellowship. Silent prayers of surrender are welcome, and even tactful conversations about spirituality are a good thing; the danger comes when small habits build up a mindset of, I don’t share this part of my life. It’s just private.

James, as a whole, is a practical book. Philosophy and abstract concepts are only touched on as a precursor for the explanation of a tangible expression in the Christian life. This life of surrender and following Jesus has consequences: real, in-your-face, pervasive consequences. If it doesn’t look as though it does, there’s something wrong on the implementation part. Living the Christian life shouldn’t just have internal consequences either. Spheres of influence should be dramatically impacted for good, constantly touched by the outpouring of a life of love for God. Such a life cannot be kept private; it naturally bears expression.