Monday, July 25, 2011

Faith in Action

You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” James 2:19

Every time I read James 2:19 I tremble out of conviction.  I proclaim my faith openly to whoever would listen.  When it comes to practicing my faith, however, I am not so sure.  What evidence is there of my faith?  Is my faith a faith of actions or only of words?  James continues saying:  “20 you foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” (James 2:20-22)  I do feel like a fool person indeed, very often, in my faith walk because of my inaction, my inability to take the necessary steps, my unwillingness to get out of my comfort zone, my lack of desire to do what I have to do, my lack of drive to do what is right in the eyes of God. 

I know that we are not saved by our works for “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God,” like Paul explains in Ephesians 2:8.  Grace is a gift, and as such, no amount of works we do could ever purchase it.  However, it is precisely because we are saved by grace, through our faith that we are called to do our part in the form of works.  In other words, our works are not going to save us, but they sure show that we are saved!  Our “good deeds” make our faith complete, like James pointed out.  Jesus wants us to experience complete faith.  He wants us to have abundant life!  Like He said it himself in John 10:10, He came to give us life to the fullest!  So it is because He gives us life to the fullest that we are called to share such fulfilled life with those He puts in our path. 

Many times, however, I miss the mark and I am content to live a faith within the safety of my comfort zone, without risking anything concrete other than the occasional oppositional remark.  I don’t really expose my life to the dangers of Christianity in action.  I don’t evangelize the Godless.  I don’t expose myself to dangerous places for the purpose of bringing the Gospel to those who need it most.  I don’t even share my faith at my work or with those in my family who are lost, let alone with strangers in the sidewalk as I go to a baseball game in the city.  In reality, when I think about it, my faith is not evidenced by many actions at all.  It is mainly a faith of private words. 

I am nothing like the missionary family that spoke at our church last Sunday about how they are starting a ministry in one of the most dangerous areas outside Guatemala City.  Unlike them, I would never, willingly, take my kids to live in a place where they could be in danger, for the purpose of spreading the Word.  I am a creature of comfort.  I pray for safety and prosperity for me and my loved ones.  I love this country where God placed me in my early twenties and I pray He would never take me away from here again.  But then, sometimes I sit back and ponder, compared to this missionary family, how abundant is my life?  The Lord has blessed me abundantly, no doubt about it.  But the blessing of being able to see and touch the reality of Christ in our lives, as those who risk getting out of the boat experience it, will never be mine unless I do too step out of my comfort zone one way or another.  It doesn’t mean that God only blesses missionaries.  But I do believe that the more we give of ourselves, the closer we get to experience God with us.  After all, “whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:25)

He wants us to have an abundant life.  He is the everlasting God.  The Creator of the ends of the world, and He renews our strength.  He wants us to soar on wings like eagles.  He won’t let us grow weary or faint no matter how much we run or walk. (Isaiah 40:28-31)  He equips us with everything we need to get out of our little bubbles and begin to do His work right here where He has planted us.  He doesn’t call us all to be missionaries abroad; however, He does call us all to be missionaries and spread His Word and work for His Kingdom wherever we are.  It is a frightening proposition, I know, but as we also know, “there is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear…” (1 John 4:18)  When we received Christ as our Lord and Savior, His Holy Spirit came to dwell in us and He is not a spirit that makes us slave to fear.  He is the Spirit that makes us sons and daughters of the Most High God! And by this Spirit we can call Him Daddy! (Romans 8:15) And our Daddy is always with us, so whom then shall we fear?

Let’s then make a decision to put our faith to action today.  I don’t know how this is going to be put into practice, but I know that He will let us know.  Let’s show our faith by our actions of love.  The Holy Spirit will grow the love in our hearts.  Therefore, I believe that if we start acting in obedience to Him who calls us; and we keep praying, the Holy Spirit will transform our acts of obedience into actions of love as He grows His love into our souls until it is love what moves our faith to action. 

Let’s think about this and pray that we are not afraid anymore to do what is right.  He walks with us and He holds our hands.  May He make our faith complete!

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