Tuesday, May 17, 2011

God in a Greeting

The Encounter at FBC Bolivar, where I attend church, is having a scripture memory emphasis this summer. Since we are studying the book of James, all the verses being chosen to memorize are from that rich, rich book. Being on the leadership team that helps plan the worship service, I am in on the discussion of which verses we plan to memorize.

That first week we read through the first few verses of James 1 out loud. This was what Billy was preaching on and we wanted the memory verse to come from there.  The person reading stopped after 1:1, which says,

"James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings."

The comment made went something like, "Well, obviously, we don't want to memorize that as a congregation." I agreed, as did everybody else in the room, but then I proceeded to tell them what I'm about to tell you.

God reminds me of something every time I think of those words. These words in this greeting. In times past, I typically read quickly - even scanned - the beginning of the letters in the New Testament,  so I can hurry up and get to the good parts. But a couple of years ago, I decided to try to memorize the book of James. My brother had told me about a girl in his church in Washington that had recited the whole book during one of their church services and how powerful it was. I was becoming more and more convicted of my need for putting God's word in my heart in a more permanent way, so I decided to give this a try. So far, I have only memorized the first chapter - and if pressed to recite it right now, I would stumble horribly.

But it was in the memorizing of that first verse that God spoke to  me. I was saying those words from James 1:1 one day, when it hit me how James had described himself. He said he was a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. God nudged me and asked, "How would you describe yourself? Could you replace James with Shelley? Are you really my servant?"

Wow. Big questions from what I typically had considered a gloss-overable greeting. Memorizing had slowed me down enough to have to really think about what was being said. And what was being said was big. Nothing in God's word is just filler.

God is in the greeting.

1 comment:

  1. So true. We blow right past stuff sometimes because we forget that the all of God's Word speaks to who He is. How powerful is that greeting in light of the fact that those Jews following Christ are those "scattered" among the nations by persecution, war, civil strife? All his encouragments and exhortations for the rest of the book are predicated on the idea that he acknowledges their suffering and offers them that warm "greeting" (which in the Greek is a call to rejoice even in the midst of their circumstances!) Thanks for this post!!