More Than Words (#Riot140)

June 10, 2013 — 26 Comments

I was looking through my journal and notes from about a year ago, and it seems like God was hitting me over the head with a message.  Following Christ and sharing His love is so much more than words – knowing words, memorizing words, and studying words.

While I think it’s important to read, study, and understand the Bible, I think it’s so much more important to put these teachings into action – into following Christ with our hands and feet.  This message has been hammered home in a few different but obvious mediums.

First, I was catching up on my blog reading one August Saturday morning last year when I came across this video in a blog post by Ryan Tate at Discipulus.  In the video, Francis Chan shares some simple but obvious thoughts about discipleship – what it is and what it is not.

Next, I was finishing up Love Does by Bob Goff on the same week (I shared about this book on my blog here).  Towards the end of the book, Bob offers his thoughts on Bible study:

What’s up with equating “Bible study” with knowing God anyway?  Wouldn’t it be a horrible thing if we studies the ones we loved instead of bonding in deeper ways by doing things with them?  I’d never want to get married to a girl no matter how much I studied her.  I’d rather take her sailing or fishing or eat cotton candy with her on a Ferris wheel.  I don’t think knowing what her name means in Greek is going to help me love her more.  In fact, they have a name for guys who just study things about a person they like but don’t do anything about it – they’re called bachelors.

So I started getting together with the same guys each week and instead of calling it a Bible study, we call it a “Bible doing.”  We’ve been at it for fifteen years now, and I’ve found there’s a big difference between the two.  At our Bible doing, we read what God has to say and then focus all of our attention on what we are going to do about it.  Just agreeing isn’t enough.  I can’t think of a single time where Jesus asked His friends to just agree with Him.

Finally, I was in church that Sunday morning when our guest pastor, Paul Williams, asked the question in his sermon – “What if we loved our neighbor as ourselves?”  In Paul’s sermon, he used the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) to point out that anyone and everyone is our neighbor.  Then he used the story of the Rich Young Man (Matthew 19:16-30) to remind us that we’re to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, and part of this is learning to love ourselves.  Finally, Paul turned to Matthew 22:15-40.  In this passage, the Pharisees and Sadducees are having a conversation with Jesus.  (These men were known to have the Bible (The Old Testament) memorized knowing every single law that was supposed to be followed.  At the end of this passage, Jesus answers questions thrown out with a famous passage, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  It’s that simple.  It doesn’t matter how much we know about the Bible if we’re not loving God and loving others with all we’ve got.

Bam!  Bam!  Bam!

Three times nailed over the head in a matter of 24 hours.  Do you think God was trying to tell me something?

The truth is I grew up in a pastor’s family.  I was known as the Bible geek in my freshman English class for knowing all the answers to the Bible questions.  I’ve even prided myself on the knowledge I’ve gained and retained along the way.  Knowledge is okay (and is important for maintaining a sound doctrine and for reminding us of Biblical truths and standards), but action is even more important.  James states it well:

Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.  James 2:17

I get so tired of all the political back and forth that ebbs and flows and is especially loud during the key election years.  One side is trying to find the candidate who is the most Christian.  The other side is trying to find a government who will fix everything and create programs for our neighbors.  Wouldn’t it be a different world if Christians actually stepped up and loved their neighbors with action and not just words.  I think this is a challenge for all of us – including me.  And that’s how I’m being stretched right now!  I want my faith to be more than words.

How about you?  How are you loving your neighbor?  Is your faith and love for others based on words or based on action?

Jon Stolpe

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Christ-follower, husband, dad, engineer, manager, runner, blogger, sax player, group life fan, freelance writer, and the list goes on...
  • http://www.leahadams.org/ Leah Adams

    Definitely a challenge. We must be relational evangelists….that is what my pastor is preaching about right now. Jesus was the ultimate relational evangelist. He built relationships with people and they were drawn to Him. He’s our model.

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      Sounds like a great sermon series. I guess I’m wondering what the impact of the sermons has been so far and what it will be.

      • http://www.leahadams.org/ Leah Adams

        He only started the series about a month ago. The desire is to get people to think past the old ways of doing outreach. The days of handing out tracts or ‘cold-calling’ and going through the 4 spiritual laws or down the Roman road are over. In this generation we MUST develop relationships with people and earn the right to share Jesus. It is a whole new way of doing things. Beginning next Sunday, couples scattered throughout the church will be asked to purposely make contact with visitors sitting in their section. Invite them to lunch after church, spend some time with them in some way getting to know them and their needs. The church will pay for the meals if the host couple can’t afford it. I’m hoping it will work well. Greg and I have been asked to do this in the section where we sit. I’ll let you know how it goes. I’ve been doing this for about a year with college students and it works incredibly well. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!!!

        • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

          It’s definitely a start. I’ll be interested in to hear how it goes with your church.

  • http://deuceology.wordpress.com Larry Carter

    Jon, I really wished you hadn’t written this one.

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      Because it’s terrible or because it’s stretching you?

      • http://deuceology.wordpress.com Larry Carter

        Never because it’s terrible, bro. Convicting.

        • David Paul Stolpe

          Absolutely Larry

        • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

          I’ll take that as a compliment or encouragement. It’s convicting to me as well. Stretching!

  • David Paul Stolpe

    Good post. If we really look at the message of the good Samaritan how would we treat foreigners? Would we call them illegals? Would we push then out? Would we deny them rights? Remember the Samaritan was foreign.

    I agree we need to do and love. But I also believe political activism can be doing and loving. And that being politically active does not mean you aren’t doing other things as well. It is bit that I want government to do the job of loving for me, but it is wrong for it to do harm supposedly for my sake. Of we aren’t maintaining or creating the programs that are intended to provide care and support for the least, we are creating new programs that are destructive to the least by creating greater and greater power and resource disparities. And to say we should just let the government reflect the will of its powerful and wealthy funders instead of the good of the people, especially the hurting and powerless ones is doing and is doing wrong. Challenging or political system is important. Christ wasn’t executed simply for loving, he was executed because he was a threat to Rome. Our way needs to be a threat to Rome. That does not occur by falling in line with the GOP or the Dems. These institutions are Rome.

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      Christ was executed to save you and me (and everyone else who follows Him). We all needed an atoning sacrifice to be considered worthy…the wages of sin is death…while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

      • David Paul Stolpe

        I fully agree, but he was sacrificed, or executed by the state, because his message challenged the business of Rome. Rome didn’t have some grand plan for salvation, they had a trouble maker in their hands who walked into the temple and flipped tables, which threatened both the temple system and Tone who were profiting.from it

        • David Paul Stolpe

          Rome not tone.

  • David Paul Stolpe

    Good post. If we really look at the message of the good Samaritan how would we treat foreigners? Would we call them illegals? Would we push then out? Would we deny them rights? Remember the Samaritan was foreign.

    I agree we need to do and love. But I also believe political activism can be doing and loving. And that being politically active does not mean you aren’t doing other things as well. It is bit that I want government to do the job of loving for me, but it is wrong for it to do harm supposedly for my sake. Of we aren’t maintaining or creating the programs that are intended to provide care and support for the least, we are creating new programs that are destructive to the least by creating greater and greater power and resource disparities. And to say we should just let the government reflect the will of its powerful and wealthy funders instead of the good of the people, especially the hurting and powerless ones is doing and is doing wrong. Challenging or political system is important. Christ wasn’t executed simply for loving, he was executed because he was a threat to Rome. Our way needs to be a threat to Rome. That does not occur by falling in line with the GOP or the Dems. These institutions are Rome.

  • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

    I always get frustrated with Bible quoters and those who brag about the Christian books they read. I’m not perfect myself, but I’d rather see Christians show, not tell.

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      I can be guilty of this which is why this post is a great reminder for me as well.

  • http://www.chashutch.com/ Charles Hutchinson

    In the book “Wrecked” by Jeff Goins, he asks “what if we really place others needs above our own selves?” While I’ve heard this many times, I guess I’m just now beginning to understand how this stretches me. It’s so difficult to move out of our concern for ourselves and truly care (in a real way) and be concerned about our neighbors (friends, family, work associates).

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      Yes, Wrecked is a great book to challenge readers to get out of their comfort zones. I read it right before I went to Guatemala for the first time last summer. It definitely put me in a great mindset as I headed into a situation that truly wrecked me. I’m heading back there this summer with my family.

  • Steve Y

    Thank you for your thoughts. This is something we (my wife and I) have been encouraging us as a family to do. It is not easy and takes time to really apply the principle of putting others first. Not because we don’t care, but because we are so centered on our own schedules, etc. Loving our neighbor needs to be that proactive muscle we must exercise. Sometimes it is getting out of our comfort zone, but we need to serve and not be served. Isn’t our job to get to Heaven and take as many as we can with us?

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      You should come check out our HOPE group when we restart in the fall. It’s a family-based service group. We find ways to serve together in the local community with our families.

      • Steve Y

        That would be great! Please keep me posted. Ironically, I am organizing a worship service on the theme of “Serving One Another”.

        • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

          We’ll probably meet over the summer (in July) to brainstorm ideas for the next year, and we’ll likely kickoff the year in September or October. I’ll keep you posted.

  • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TCAvey

    Great lessons! Thanks for sharing.

    Love Does is a great book! Thanks for reminding me about that part of it. LOVE is action, it’s DOING something and not just studying it.

    Loving others is messy but we are commanded to do that, not to just stand on the sidelines.

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      Thanks, TC.

  • David Paul Stolpe

    Jon I will link in the audio link for Sam’s sermon last week. He preached on this.

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      I look forward to hearing Sam’s message. Did you send me the link yet?