“But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.”
– James 1:22
It might seem that James, in his teaching, is the first leader of the “more than thoughts and prayers” movement. I’m not sure.
James does concentrate on doing good works, especially to those in economic distress. He does emphasize morals and social integrity. He does worry about those who talk too much without giving thought to what they are saying. And he would agree that “thoughts and prayers” are never enough.
That said, James is not looking for actions that result in an inadequate quick fix. He is not abandoning thoughts and prayers. He is seeking alignment. He urges faith-informed action. He imagines a Christian practice that is rooted in a space where thoughts and prayers are one with good works. He envisions actions that are rooted in the fruits of the spirit. He imagines prayers that are nutrients for the common good. He encourages thoughts that are so grounded they are remembered and transformative.
When thoughts and prayers and doing join hands, there is an alignment of being/doing makes change. Action alone is not only incomplete, but it may also be like glancing in a mirror, when for a moment we see and tomorrow forget. Thoughts and prayer alone are not only incomplete, but they are also like glancing in a mirror, where for a moment we see and then move on.
This is no gospel of straw; James offers whole-hearted teaching rooted in the hard work of active spirituality and transformative thoughts and prayer.
This is gospel-doing.