Feeling Your OATs

Feb 18, 2016   //   by James Johnson   //   Blog  //  No Comments

The Bible couldn’t be clearer: “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.James 2:15-17.

It’s likely that this video, and this text, hits us pretty hard. It sure hits me! My life is as full of good intentions as yours. Unfortunately, good intentions never got much done. Maybe you can relate to some good intentions like the following:

I meant to clean the kitchen… but the dirty dishes are still stacked up.

I meant to pay off the credit card bill each month… but years later, here I am up to my neck in debt.

I meant to play with my kids… but now they hardly seem interested.

I meant to help the guy next door move… but I missed my chance.

I meant to bring some spare change to help the guy at the corner who looks hungry… but I haven’t seen him in awhile. I hope he’s OK.

“I meant to…” is a pretty sad way to begin a phrase, isn’t it? The outflow of “I meant to” Christianity is a world that hears “blah blah blah” coming from our lips instead of knowing us as people who make a difference, people worth knowing, people that seem like, dare I say, this Jesus fellow that we read about in the Bible?

How can we turn away from “I meant to” / “blah blah blah” Christians to being the people who make a difference?

It starts with each of us individually choosing to be different. Might I suggest “eating” a morning dose of OATs each day?

O – Observe

What is the need? What do I see happening around me? What is going on in my neighbor’s life? Are they moving in? Are they older? Are they having health problems? Is this person hungry?

We need to be more observant! This means looking and (most importantly) listening.

Rather than judge (stereotype) a person by their looks, how about looking at them and saying, with our eyes, “I love you! How can I help?” Hey, if you actually think it, you might actually start acting like it!

Rather than completing someone’s sentences for them, or thinking about our responses, how about hearing them completely before interpreting them?

How can you be a more observant person?

A – Act

I was reading the story about the good Samaritan in Luke 10 today. I found myself thinking about all the barriers that did not keep the Samaritan from helping the injured and robbed man out. Prejudice wasn’t a barrier. Time wasn’t a barrier. Finances were not a barrier to serving him. Inconvenience, discomfort, safety… none of that came between this Samaritan traveler and helping this dying man. Amazing!

Now, the second thought I had was a bit disturbing. Why is that so amazing to me? And why could I read that text and see the “barriers overcome” so easily? Is this passage piercing me a little? Is it piercing you? Could it be that the reason the barriers fell so easily to the Samaritan’s pity is because he didn’t even think about the barriers? He just acted? Why do I so easily think about barriers instead of action?

It seems to me that we need to have God install some real, genuine, Grade-A compassion in us. Compassion that sees a need and acts. Is it risky? Will we get burned? Is it wreckless? Maybe… but the fact that we think of service as these things seems like a problem to me!

How can we become people of service, who act first before seeing barriers?


Observation and action are great. But with those things alone, we aren’t much different than a charity that runs a telethon, or a handout agency. Somehow we are called to be different.

We’re called to have conversations. We’re called to make friends. We’re called to tell our stories of how good God has been to us. “How will they hear (about Jesus) if no one tells them?” Paul basically asks in Romans 10:14.

I love this quote, from Ministry of Healing, by Ellen G. White: “Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Savior mingled with men as one who desired their good.” [My observation: because he did desire their good!]. “He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me!'” (page 143).

Here’s the thing: only six words refer to actually, directly speaking to someone. The rest of it? Observation and action. You could say that any conversation He had with people before the invitation to “Follow Me!” was given was as much about observation and action, in terms of building the relationship. But that last part, “Follow Me!” is SOOO huge! Someone might say no, but for the one who says yes, that invitation seals the deal in totally transforming a person!

Who have you told your story to? Who out there knows how good God has been to you? How can you become a person who Observes, Acts, and Talks about Jesus, even inviting others to be part of the journey with you?

Let’s enjoy the blessings of being such people!

What are your thoughts?

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