"One does not simply..."
So, in the world of Internet pictures and popular culture, the picture I included with my little writing for the day is instantly recognizable as the "One does not simply" meme. While the original quote is "One does not simply walk into Mordor", popular culture has taken this moment and tuned it to many different situations. Typically, it comes into play when someone is trying to illustrate that a task another person endeavors to undertake is not as simple as the executor is making it out to be. In the movie that generated the reference, a misfit company and a pompous council of elders are trying to achieve a goal - destroy the ring of power in the volcano, Mount Doom, in the center of Mordor, the stronghold of evil. The company is going to walk to Mordor, sneak in under the eye of the evil one, and destroy the ring. Boromir, the character pictured above, reminds them all that talk is cheap - walking into Mordor is not easy, and should not be taken lightly. They may talk, but the company must also walk, and act, to reach their goal. Actions are important, they fulfill the promise. The character reminds everyone seated in the council if all they manage to do is talk about defeating evil, but no actions are planned and executed, evil wins. They must be doers, not merely hearers who talk big, and barricade themselves in ivory towers or leave the realm, deceiving themselves they are doing "something" about the problem by abandoning the people most affected.
How does The Lord of the Rings, fantasy series written within the past century, relate to the teachings of Jesus? In more ways than even J.R.R. Tolkien imagined, but this particular example is perhaps best with the book of James. In this letter, James writes "If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless." Or, put another way, "One does not simply speak of God's Word without bridling their tongue, examining their heart." Talk is cheap - loving one another and really acting out the gospel of caring for widows and orphans is not easy, and should not be taken lightly, but should be done with love. Faith is good, but there needs to be meat, substance, to the faith; actions are important. James reminds the people that there is more to following this new way than mere belief; true belief would be born out, recognized in the actions of a person, both consciously and subconsciously. Much in the New Testament writings focus our spiritual lives around being saved by grace or faith alone, yet here in a few chapters of James we are reminded that our actions matter. They may not be a requirement, or a way to "earn" a place in the kingdom of heaven, but they still matter nonetheless, because they speak to our character. Another way of making James' argument: if someone were to see your actions, would they know you are a person of faith? Would they know you are a loving and caring person? Would they know both, or neither?
Perhaps the phrase we are looking for is, "One does not simply talk about how much faith one has in God, but simple faith is all that is needed if it inspires one to care for widows, orphans, and others in distress in the world."