But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
– James 1:22-25, ESV
Our biggest problem in western Christianity is not that we don’t know Jesus well enough. Oh, we know him. We have loads of information about the Bible, access to oceans of sermons from renowned scholars and men of God, books on every inch of the Christian life, and probably more than a few Bibles sitting around our homes. Our problem isn’t knowledge. It’s action. We are the people James speaks of in James 1:22 when he describes people who are hearers only, deceiving themselves into thinking that if they just hear more they will move closer to the Lord.
James doesn’t leave any room for that kind of intellectual Christianity. He says the the man who hears but doesn’t do is a fool – so much a fool that he can’t even remember what his own face looks like. When we hear God’s word and don’t act in response we are setting ourselves up for destruction, like the house that Jesus describes as being built on sand. (Matt. 7) One of my biggest fears for my generation is that we will condemn ourselves by our great knowledge and horrifying lack of action.
We need to be people who look “into the perfect law, the law of liberty” and do what we see there. We need to slow down our consumption of information and do the work of applying what we’ve received. Instead of always running on to the new thing let’s linger until we’ve savored everything there is in what we have and it has sunk deep down into us, sculpting us into Christ’s likeness. We don’t need more Bible study. We need more Bible living.