James Wyers, our Gospel Meeting, and Other Thoughts

We are excited to have James Wyers with us this week.  After this morning, services are planned for Sunday through Thursday evenings at 7 o’clock.  Y’all come!

James made a profound impression on me during my formative years when he was the minister at Sulligent from 1965 to 1970.  I am sure my humble attempts at public speaking have been strongly influenced by his delivery style.  We have been close friends since I first knew him.  I think I was hired here because I could truthfully provide him as a reference.  If he gave me the nod, then I must be all right.  Such is the high esteem in which he is rightfully held among those who know him.  I have told him that I owe him a commission on my salary here.  He has yet to bill me.

Someone told me once that James was sometimes “too good.”  I said that I didn’t think anyone could be too good.  If that were possible though, James would be a candidate.  You will recall that at various periods in their Old Testament history the Jews thought Yahweh was obligated to them because they went through the motions of keeping the sacrifices.  Some people practice think they are practicing Christianity that way.  We show up three times/week and God is in our debt.  The rest of the hours in the week are ours and God can mind His own business.  Well, it doesn’t really work that way.  James is one person who understands that and lives accordingly.

This all reminds me of the time Jesus was asked about the Great Commandment in the Torah.  He could have said that there was no “great” commandment, that they were all the same.  But, He didn’t say that.  As you remember, He said there were two Great Commandments:  love God first and love your neighbor as yourself.  The idea was the rest was useless if you missed these two.  Those are still the Great Commandments today.  I don’t recall Jesus ever taking it back.  We sometimes invert things.  We take other commandments, that are themselves God-given and must be obeyed, but we make them the great commandments and move what Jesus said further down on the list.  It’s kind of like what Jesus actually said isn’t really there.  We are given to majoring in minors and minoring in majors.  My brother, James, understands the difference.

The church has to get right what it really means to love God first.  That involves coming to understand what humility is and taking seriously its presence in our lives.  That process is assisted by understanding mercy in two ways:  how much I need it and how much I show it to others.  The work-in-progress of humility is further assisted by discovering gratitude.  I am nothing and have nothing apart from God’s grace.  Yet, He has made me something; He is forming me into His very image: in Christ.  Do you think we are grateful for that?  Gratitude plus mercy equals awareness equals humility which prepares a person to love God first.

The church has to get right what it really means to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Some in the church whoop and howl about government social welfare programs.  Did it ever occur to us that maybe the government stepped in because the church (that would be us) was not stepping up?  I am not sure God will be impressed if we have the five items of worship right while we are looking the other way as our neighbor down the road is suffering.  Now what was it that priest and Levite did on their way to the temple?

Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 22:37-40 NKJV)

Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:4 NKJV)

Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. (Luke 6:36 NKJV)

… And what do you have that you did not receive? … (1 Corinthians 4:7 NKJV)

My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you, (Galatians 4:19 NKJV)

But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? (1 John 3:17 NKJV)

Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. (Luke 10:31-32 NKJV)

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