Canadian Mennonite
Volume 10, No. 19
October 2, 2006


Singing God’s Tune

At Canadian Mennonite, we get several hundred news releases each month from groups of all kinds. Many are from worthy organizations, of course, and we select the more significant or interesting ones to pass on to you. But others are less worthy.

I received one such release last month which would have just been deleted except that it accidentally illustrated a passage from James that I have been studying. It was promoting a set of music CDs for children called “Name Your Tune” that is made-to-order for each child.

According to the release, “‘Name Your Tune’ is a fresh and new children’s music compilation that is made-to-order and personalized for each child. Children will hear their name more than 80 times throughout 14 much-loved songs. The classic ‘Old MacDonald had a farm...’ becomes ‘Little Hannah had a farm...’

“A former teacher and a mother to three-year-old Hannah, Candace understands the qualitative impact of music for children and explains that ‘Name Your Tune’ is all about making the kids feel special. [Actor] Eric McCormack certainly agreed. ‘It just confirmed [his son’s] belief that the entire world revolves around him. It’s great fun!’”

This is the message the world sends, and it starts on us as young as possible. The entire world revolves around you and if it doesn’t, you need to do whatever it takes to make it so.

James 3:13-18 tells us about two kinds of wisdom: wisdom from above and earthly wisdom. James 4:1-10 continues with two kinds of friendships: friendship with God and friendship with the world. In these verses, James lists 26 negative and 17 positive characteristics or consequences. He sets out a detailed road map so you know which way you’re going. “Look out for the signs!” says James. “Watch where you’re headed.” He gives us tools to examine ourselves and see if our words match our walk.

We can choose envy, boasting, lying and being driven by our cravings and pursuit of our pleasures. Or we can choose gentleness, being willing to yield, mercy, peacemaking, righteousness and purity. Even more, which wisdom and which friendship we are seeking affects our lives in all kinds of practical ways according to James.

Drawing near to God leads to drawing near to each other. Drawing away from God—by our selfishness for our own way or for more possessions and more pleasures—leads to the breakdown of ourselves, our community and our relationship with God.

Praise God, we are not left to face the world alone! “But he gives all the more grace,” we read in chapter 4. “‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you….”

God will draw near to you! God longs to be in an intimate, faithful relationship with us. We just have to ask. We are assured of this again within the first few verses of the letter. James 1:5 states, “If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you.” We only need to ask in faith, with sincerity, and without hypocrisy—not when we are chasing earthly wisdom with our actions while our words ask for heavenly wisdom.

Martin Luther said, “The world does not need a definition of religion as much as it needs a demonstration.” Let’s let our actions speak with our words, and through that, build a friendship with God that keeps us living right.

—Tim Miller Dyck

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