I want you to think about something with me for a moment. Think about all the messages you receive on a daily basis. This includes, but is not limited to, messages in advertisements, news, media outlets, messages within songs, and interactions with other people through personal interaction, email, social media, and more. The fact is today's interconnected culture is almost unavoidable. When news breaks in the Middle East it is almost instantaneously reported around the world; within a couple of hours millions upon millions of people all know about the news. When advertisement campaigns for new products are launched in one country, those ad campaigns can be posted online and reach hundreds of countries in a matter of minutes. News outlets and advertisers know and understand this interconnected nature and use it for their advantage. For example, someone in South America can receive the same message as someone in Africa. Thus, messages bombard every culture around the world. And before you think I am about to bash the idea of media and the interconnected nature of our world, please know I am aware this post will be made on a website that is linked to several social media websites and has the ability to go around the world.
The fact that messages can spread across the globe in a matter of minutes is not a bad thing, necessarily. There is a part of me that likes to know what is going on around the world but there is also a part of me that hates the fact that radical hate and lies can be perpetuated all over the world through this interconnected culture. I like that on Saturdays I can sit down and watch football played across America—from the northeastern states to the Pacific states. However, I despise the fact that a singer can record a song celebrating any, and all, kinds of debauchery and filth and post it online and within a matter of hours kids all across the world have heard the song, sing the song, and seek to emulate the song's message. Now let us take this to a more spiritual level. I like that on any given Sunday afternoon or Monday I can get online and have access to thousands upon thousands of Bible-based sermons preached from pulpits across the world on Sunday morning. I enjoy the fact that I can get regularly updated podcasts from Christian media outlets on my phone and listen to them when I am exercising, driving, working in my yard, or sitting on my couch. With this ease of access to biblical material, that clearly explains how those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior can live out their faith in their everyday world, why is it that so many Christians are shallow in their faith? And, why is it that the Bible can be expounded on by preachers who have wrestled with the truth of God's Word, prayed for God's direction and blessing, prepared for hours, and poured their life into building up other believers only to have those believers walk away from a message unchanged and unmoved?
Recently I was given the opportunity to preach/teach a group of people a series on missions. It was a three-part study focusing on what is missions, where do we do missions, and how do we spiritually prepare ourselves for doing missions. Each part was its own message and each message lasted about thirty minutes. As part of the last lesson I asked the group to recall to me the lessons they were taught in small group Bible study on the previous Sunday, the point of the service on Sunday morning, and the study from the previous Wednesday evening. To put it nicely, there was great struggle to remember those three times when the Word was expounded. Thus, I believe we have found why so many Christians struggle to represent Christ in today's culture. Moreover, I think we have discovered why so many believers are shallow in their faith. It is because they fail take in the Word as it is expounded upon. To sit under the teaching of God's Word and walk away unchanged in to behave as individual of James 1:23-24. The man described in these verses is the man who looks at his face in the mirror and walks away forgetting what he looks like. This analogy is used to describe the person who listens to God's Word but fails to put the Word into practice.
Failure to put God's Word into practice will result in a lack of faith. This lack of faith, continued over a lifetime, results in a shallow believer. A shallow believer trying to represent Christ in the darkness of our lost world results in a very dim light. Now, take that dim light of one person and multiply this situation across so many believers who are failing to put God's Word into practice and you have the current situation in the world: believers who struggle to make an impact for the Kingdom of God because they have not allowed the truth of God to make a lasting impact in their personal life. Let us, as the people of God, follow James' directive as stated in James 1:22 (NIV), "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what is says." Do what the Word says and put the principles of God's Word (that are already being expounded upon by so many pastors and teachers) into practice in your life and watch God move and work in your life and in the lives of those around you. Do what the Word says.
James Christopher Powell has served as assistant minister in Northwest Florida for ten years.
He studies at The Baptist College of Florida where he is working on a Master's degree in Christians Studies.
He married his wife Jennifer in March 2014.