Great Plains Daily Devotional for 7/12/2023: John 13:12-15, 33-35; James 1:22

Today please be in prayer for

Sterling, KS: First UMC
Hutchinson District
Walton UMC
Hutchinson District
Walton UMC
Hutchinson District
Great Plains Conference circuit pastor
Salina District

Today's Lectionary Text

John 13:12-15, 33-35

After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had reclined again, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. ... Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

James 1:22

But be doers of the word and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.

Today's Devotional

The scriptures I have chosen today are well known as Jesus begins the night of the Last Supper by washing the feet of the disciples and then calls them to action saying to do this to others as I have done it for you. He later adds another call to action to “love one another as I have loved you”. James later encourages all followers of Christ to be “doers of the word and not hearers only”. Make no mistake about it - becoming a disciple of Jesus means a call to action; to do what Jesus said and not just hear his words and profess to believing them. If you look closely at the Sermon on the Mount, you will see Jesus teaching not what to believe or profess, but what to do if you would be a follower of him.  

While I think the call to be a doer and not just a hearer can be a both/and statement, and not an either/or statement, I’ll go ahead and admit it -- I am a doer, an achiever, throughout most of my life, even long before becoming a pastor. This can be a very good thing in the church, though I confess it can be a problem when, for example, a someone says “maybe we should think about knocking out that wall to expand the church” and then someone begins doing it the next day to the horror of those who wanted to think about it. Martin Luther may have felt the same way about the letter of James because doing good works seemed contradictory to salvation by faith alone. Luther feared that people would believe they could earn salvation by doing good works. It seems to me that James is saying we need to hear the word, but not leave it there, rather to allow hearing to motivate us to action. If you are changed by the good news of Jesus Christ, you must be transformed into a "doer who acts" in Jesus’ name! I also think it is clear that Jesus’ message to the disciples on the last night he would be with them was to take over and do the things Jesus had shown them. If the message of Jesus was to continue changing the world, it would continue through their actions. 

And so it is with us today. It is great to hear quality preaching and music and have wonderful fellowship with friends, but if those things do not lead us to try changing the world through changing the systems of oppression all around us, then I am not sure we’ve really heard the Gospel. Jesus said “DO the Gospel”. I am personally excited by the Justice in Action groups formed in our conference and have become engaged in the work of the group in Lincoln. Social justice work is hard but over 1,000 people have joined the effort to change unjust systems in the local government as well as the State. Justice in Action is DOING the Gospel. 

-- Rev. Galen Wray, retired elder

Prayer for Reflection

Lord of Life, cultivate in us a doer’s mentality. Not one of doing without thinking, but one that thinks about what you call us to do, and then acts upon it. Speak your word to our hearts and enable us to be changed by it. Give us the faith to carry out your word. In Jesus’ name, amen.  


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