Ok, I am about to go on a tangent, however, that is alright because I own the website. I will try to spiritualize my tangent and give us all some practical application for life. The book of James is an in your face letter. James, the brother of our Lord Jesus and leader of the church in Jerusalem, penned this letter. If you are looking for the warm fuzzy stuff that makes you feel warm and gooey you are going to have a hard time finding it in James. James tells us again and again our faith in Jesus will result in the believer doing good works. Verse after verse he describes what this will look like. In James 4 he writes on submitting to God. In verse 14 we read a very familiar verse, “God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.” Pride vs. Humility! Our society has a problem with pride. I have had a problem with pride in my life. It was once said of me that I autograph my own Bible when I get through preaching. It’s amazing what years and sin will do to a prideful person. Time and recognizing one’s own sin will humble a person. Let me say, today I love grace more than ever. Over the past few days I have noticed just how much some people desire to be recognized and deplore not being the center of attention. Allow me to share a few examples from the last few days of some people who had to be center of attention. I apologize in advance if this hits home.
I. HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION.
As a pastor I know I am going to attend at least one high school graduation every year, sometimes as many as three. This is supposed to be a ceremony filled with dignity and honor. The graduates have fulfilled one of the most demanding goals in their lives. High school graduation requires a commitment of 13 years for most students. Our graduates wear academic dress. This practice dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries when many, if not most, of the graduates were clergy who had taken certain vows and wore clerical robes. I have read in several places that with no sufficient heating systems during this time all scholars began wearing the robes for warmth. Academic regalia was practical in the beginning. It kept the graduate warm. However, graduations chocked full of regalia and pomp and circumstance are meant to be dignified and classy occasions today. There is great shame when a student accomplishes a goal, has his/her name called and as they walk across the stage someone or several someones stand and yell, “Whooooooooooooohooooooooooo, Bubba! Way to go. Good job.” What this person is saying to everyone who is sitting quietly is: “Hey, everybody look at me.”
II. THE WAFFLE HOUSE.
One day this week I was traveling north on Highway 49 toward my home and a pastor friend was traveling south on Highway 49 toward his home. We happened to call each other and decided to stop at the Waffle House in Florence, MS for a cup of coffee and a visit. It was a great visit. I love Mike Grenn and for an hour and a half we visited, drank coffee and had a glorious time – EXCEPT FOR A FEW MINUTES. As we made our way into this famous house of waffles a gentleman was standing in front of the restaurant near an old motorcycle. After a few minutes in the parking lot he came inside and sat down behind Mike and myself. One of the servers made the terrible mistake of asking him what kind of motorcycle was he riding. This server just lost his tip from me. With a voice so loud people were hitting their brakes on Highway 49 he told everyone it was a 1976 Honda CB 400. It had an inline four stroke. It was just an updated version of the 350 from 1975. It had a six speed transmission. Something called the compression ratio was 9.4.1. It had 37 horsepower and could generate 8500 rpm. As our conversation turned to our graduate services the motorcycle man’s voice went up a few octaves declaring that the CB 400 was the predecessor to many of the rocket bikes on the road today and that he had ridden his in 36 of the states in the Continental United States. I prayed as earnestly as I have ever prayed he would not begin to name the states. This man should have just walked in and said, “Hey! Everybody look at me.” By the way, I kicked a Honda over at a gas station later because of this annoying man.
III. THE MEXICAN RESTAURANT.
If any of you make a comment about seeing a pattern of restaurants in my life I will not forgive you. Last week I ate at a Mexican restaurant with my family. As I approached the check out I could tell there was an aggravated man coming through the door. Don’t be impressed with my discernment it was easy to see he was aggravated. Evidently he had picked up a to-go order and had gotten home and the order was not correct. Let me simply say once I traveled 26 miles to my house with a box of Popeye’s fried chicken only to discover it was spicy and not regular. To everyone’s amazement I got back in my vehicle and went back to Popeye’s for the correct chicken. It’s that important. I felt his pain. Anyway this man started barking demands at a young lady behind the counter. He was mad, rude and ugly about the situation. I would have said something but I am quite convinced the young lady couldn’t understand English so it wasn’t upsetting her too much. This man was at the front of the restaurant, in the largest dining room in the building, throwing a hissy. He did not want his problem solved; He wanted everyone to see him. He could have just as easily walked in and said, “Hey! Everyone look at me.”
The next time any of us who are believers are tempted to draw attention to ourselves remember the words of some of the Greeks who came to Jerusalem to worship at the Feast of Passover in John 12:20, 21, “And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.”
Hey! Everybody look at Jesus. I hope they can see our Lord in our lives.