No more appetizers / by daniel hamlin

I was reading in James where it says something like, “You’ve stored up riches for yourselves in the last days.” Something about that caught my attention. I personally don’t believe that James is really concerned with physical wealth when he speaks in this section of Scripture, but either way the verse touched something in me. I realized that if I knew I was living in the last days and I began to store up riches as if the end weren’t a reality, well that would be the same as knowing Jesus and enjoying His salvation but living my life as if I didn’t believe He actually exists. To know Jesus is to live differently, to make life choices based on the reality of that relationship. If the way I live my life doesn’t change as a result of my relationship with Jesus, then I believe that is the same sort of mindset that says to store up riches even though the end is near; once the end arrives the riches are meaningless. Basically I think James is saying we ought to live according to our knowledge of Jesus; if He’s a reality for us then it ought to have an affect on our lives.

            Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not actually speaking of whether or not we are living in the end times, I’m just touching on a concept that this verse in James got me thinking about. And I’m not talking about religion or a cause or a theology. I’ve come to the hard conclusion that for so much of my life I’ve lived in a kind of spiritual mediocrity. I’ve done just enough to be alive but not enough to fully live. To be honest I could care less about religion or theologies or denominations or the perceived standard of a Christian lifestyle. I’ve come to the firm conviction that all of it is BS. I’ve met drug addicts who are closer to the kingdom of heaven than many people I’ve met in church. This isn’t to bash anyone, if anything it is an indictment against myself because I’m as guilty as anyone in this area. I’ve lived my life for far too long as though Jesus were merely a good idea or a rally cry. James also states that pure and undefiled religion in the sight of God is to look after orphans and widows in the time of their need. Essentially he is saying if Jesus is real then I need to live my life based on that reality. It means my friendship with Jesus ought to actually affect the way I live and what I do in my day-to-day life. It doesn’t mean that I should become more religious though; it means quite the opposite.

            I believe that if we want to get closer to Jesus we have to become less religious. I believe that if I want to experience the reality of God’s love then I have to become less concerned with proving my opinion is right, and more concerned with my appetite for God. I was reminded recently while listening to a pastor of the importance of spiritual hunger. Jesus says it is the hungry and thirsty that will be filled. For so long I was far too easily satisfied with the appetizers of faith and never partook of the meal. I nibbled on bits of doctrine and morality without consuming the only substance that fills—Jesus Himself.

            I suppose this book tour is an attempt at living my life based on the reality that my friendship with Jesus has completely changed my life. It’s an attempt to respond when He speaks. It is certainly not an attempt to promote an agenda or theology or cause or any of the other BS that has come to repulse me so much as of late. It’s merely an attempt at actually living my life with my friend Jesus, not just living with the idea of Him.