During Bill Clinton’s eight years as president of the United States, the phrase “Symbolism over Substance” was made popular by Rush Limbaugh. Using his weekly radio talk show as a forum, Limbaugh daily illustrated that the political and economic world are driven much more by image than by content. In a 2006 article written by Craig Smith, the Swiss America CEO uses a past public relations campaign to prove his point. Symbolism over substance was behind the mass medias attempt to convince America that a rally on Wall Street is right around the corner.
You see that a man is justified (pronounced righteous before God) through what he does and not alone through faith [through works of obedience as well as by what he believes], James 2:24.
In the past few years, a new form of symbolism over substance is taking center stage, the Woke Movement. “Woke” indicates a healthy paranoia, especially about issues of racial and political justice. The leaders of this movement use current events as a form of ambulance chasing to score political points in the media. Several democratic candidates running for president went on apology tours to confess past political decisions to convey their degree of woke-ness. Hollywood actors and actresses have joined in, serving vegan meals at this year’s Oscars to illustrate their concern about climate change.
For as the human body apart from the spirit is lifeless, so faith apart from [its] works of obedience is also dead, James 2:26.
Def Leppard released their song Action Not Words in 1983. While the album title Pyromania and lyrics send the wrong message about action, most human beings prefer action, not empty words. This mentality leads to an inner desire, “don’t tell me, show me.” In the passage above, Jesus’ earthly brother writes about faith’s role in fulfilling what you believe. According to James, when you fail to live out faith via works of obedience, faith is dead. Thus, symbolic acts like going to church serve as a façade to hide a lack of spiritual substance. May this blog inspire you to become more than just woke. May the power of the Holy Spirit awaken your soul so that your faith becomes alive.
by Jay Mankus