Issue 956 – Stained Glass – January 12, 2023
I love the beauty of stained glass, particularly when it is set into the walls of a church as a window. There is something about the rays of sunlight shining through that glass which, at times, can seem almost heavenly to me.
Large stained glass windows take many hours to design and build, which can be costly. A secondhand one can quickly run into the tens of thousands of dollars, and a new one, done by a well-known craftsman, can run up to $5000 a square foot.
As much as I like them, I lump them into the same category as massive cathedrals, i.e. beautiful but not the most prudent use of church resources.
Many things are done, and much money is invested in the Christian world in the name of appearance.
On the other hand, I know of church buildings where everything is run down. I once had an elder explain that they didn’t believe in doing maintenance because they didn’t want visitors to think the church spent all its money on the building. Instead, it conveyed that the church didn’t even care about its facility.
Somewhere in the middle is a healthy balance of keeping things maintained and attractive without spending a bundle on appearance for the sake of simply looking good.
Similarly, Christians can fall out of balance between works and grace. We can become so works-orientated that we forget grace and even neglect our own relationship with the Lord. Other times we can coast and “do” nothing because works don’t contribute to our salvation.
I think that is precisely the conflict that James was writing about.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. James 1:22-25
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. James 2:14-26
We miss the boat if we are working hard to impress others with Jesus but neglecting Him. If we are coasting and not showing love to others, we also miss the boat.
Our walk isn’t about looking good or trying to make God look good. We can’t make God look good. He is already perfect and doesn’t need our help.
Our walk isn’t about coasting and doing nothing. We are saved by faith, but saved to work in His service.
May you find balance in your life.
Hallelu Yah / Praise God
Gleanings From The Word
Experience an extraordinary God in ordinary life.
Soli Deo Gloria (For the glory of God alone)
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