I love to play pretend with my kids. We pretend to be all sorts of things: characters from The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, ferocious animals, warriors, professional athletes…you name it. The big idea behind pretending (pretense) is that you act like you are something that you are not, for a period of time. These games of pretend don’t usually last very long. I may “pretend” to have been killed in battle, but in about a minute, I eventually open my eyes and put my tongue back in my mouth and stand up. You can’t pretend forever.
Children are not the ones who play this game. Imagine a grown man walked into an office building as people were busily typing away at their computers and screamed “I’ve just been mugged!” Everyone is shocked and runs quickly to investigate the situation. Curiously, as he tells his story of being beaten, held at gunpoint and violently robbed, his co-workers begin to notice that his suit is still nicely in place, as if it were just from the cleaners. His tie is perfectly tied and his hair is combed just right. His shoes are shiny and his Rolex watch is still ticking. It slowly becomes clear that this man was not mugged, but simply looking for an excuse for being late to work again. One thing about pretending is that eventually your profession and your reality will meet and you will be exposed.
The purpose of the book of James is to expose pretenders. In this letter, James, the brother of Jesus and head of the Jerusalem Church, seeks to discuss true religion, true faith and true wisdom. This week at Redeemer, we are excited to have Mr. John Thacker preaching from James 2:18-26, as he considers “Living Faith.” Did you know that one day many professing, Sunday school going, church attending people will be found to be pretenders? James says that even the demons believe God and shudder. What constitutes a demonic faith? It seems to be professed faith that is not evidenced in grace filled works of righteousness. So, how does your profession (I’ve just been robbed) line up with the evidence? What are the evidences of true regeneration? How can we spot empty works in our lives and repent of them? How can we practice true religion and repent of the false religion that only destroys? Join us this week as we are reminded that faith without works is the worst game of pretend that anyone could ever play.