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The Word and a need for action

“We are men of action, lies do not become us.”

So says Wesley to the villainous six-fingered man, Count Rugan, in the movie, “The Princess Bride.”

Now, the Count is a cad, and no example to emulate, but there is an appealing quality to this idea of being a man of action.

At the end of Matthew, chapter nine, Jesus makes an interesting request: “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

A casual reader would glean the idea that our job is not to work, but rather to request workers. Sort of a mid-level human resource executive-type.

This casual reader should read on for one more verse: “He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.”

In other words, the prayer was no sooner prayed than it was answered, and the answer involved action.

The scripture is replete with examples of participants.

There is a stirring list of exploits by King David’s “mighty men” in 2 Samuel, chapter 23.

One character is Benaiah. On a snowy day, this warrior climbed down into a pit and killed a lion. Every time I read that verse I am struck by the sense of engagement. Why not just quietly walk by this snowy pit? Wasn’t there some proverb about letting sleeping lions lie? Not this guy; he is a man who acts.

My father is a man of action.

I grew up in a small town in southeastern Colorado. The basement in our home had small access windows. If there was a person outside, you could see their legs up to somewhere around knee level. One night, my Dad, Mom and I were hanging out in our kitchen when my younger brother exploded into the room.

“There is someone outside our house! I saw their legs!” he said breathlessly.

In the moment I thought it was time to dial 911. At the very least, talk about it a little bit. Maybe form a committee to discuss the state of safety, security, protection and general well-being in the Thompson household. I could be appointed to head up a sub-committee on the child’s presumed expectation of peace and no boogie-men.

My Dad had no comment on the situation. In fact, he said nothing at all. He simply spun around, grabbed a baseball bat from our sports paraphernalia in the corner, and rather quickly walked out the front door.

And that was that.

For about 30 minutes.

My brother, Mom and I were left to our own thoughts about the future of our family. Just as suddenly, Dad returned. In the years since, the story has become real in my mind, so I recount it as I recall. Dad chased the intruder through our yard, leapt over our fence and finally brought him to ground in a space between two round-top storage facilities in the next block over.

Apparently, Pops decided not to beat him to a pulp, but took advantage of the situation to speak to the young man about his spiritual state. Something along the lines of, “If you were to die today, do you know where you would spend eternity?”

I believe in that instant, it was a fairly powerful proposition.

The point?

James exhorts us, “Be doers of the word and not hearers only.”

Eugene Peterson translates it as such: “Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear!”


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