It’s really easy to have faith—in something or anything when you don’t stop looking at the storms of life coming at you and your kin. In many ways and times, we profess faith, but our actions say differently.
Faith is the culmination of the reality of God at work in this world. The work of God culminated with the death of Jesus on the cross and the resurrection three days later. Have you ever wondered? What would have happened had God not intervened? What if Jesus didn’t wash the disciples’ feet or institute the Eucharist at the Last Supper? What if in Jesus dying moments, instead of saying, “It is finished,” called down angels to rescue him from the cross and destroy his enemies?
What would it say about God? What would it say about humanity? What if we were meant to learn from Jesus’ example of sacrifice—one for another?
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So, faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
The Epistle of James is a hotly contested book in the New Testament. Martin Luther called it a “book of straw fit for the fire.” Luther’s position was that salvation was by faith alone in Jesus Christ. James takes it one step further and connects faith and works—grace and action as foundational principles of the gospels.
When we (the Church) claim faith in Christ, it cannot be static. Faith is an action word. Faith takes more than we can muster in the cool of the morning and the darkness of night. Faith takes a willing participant to pour our ardent hearts out to God, knowing that it isn’t through our meandering prayers, but prayer depends on God, who listens. Who knows what God is saying? Do we (the Church) know what God wants of us?
I sat with a homeless man on my front porch a while back. We shared cigars and coffee and got to know one another’s stories. Out time continued over a hot meal and some next steps to help him find shelter. The next day I received a text message: “Thanks for making me feel human again.” My plans include reuniting and fellowshipping over cigars and a hot meal.
I tell you this because, for me, this was my faith in action. Building a connection and relationship, and forgetting the circumstances we lived in for a moment. If we stop overthinking faith and just let it unfold before our eyes, we will see God’s glory in the faces of one another.
I have said, “You don’t get to pick and choose who you are on the road with.” God places each person in our life for a reason, season, or lifetime. I have friends from college that I will never see again. I have been a part of their life for a reason and season, but not a lifetime—and that’s okay.
Answering the question: “What does God want of us?” is simple. God wants us to be in a relationship with all the world the way Jesus was in a relationship with the world through the love of God. It’s not enough to trot out the processional cross on easter and sing at the tops of our lungs; Christ the Lord is Risen Today if we don’t put our faith into action. James was right, “Faith without works is dead.” Thinking about this Easter Season, we are not a dead sect. We are a CHURCH of the RESURRECTED JESUS. The resurrection power that flowed through Jesus' veins flows through our bodies. Our bodies are imperfect and, at times, full of sin, but Jesus has given us a transfusion by the power of the Holy Spirit.
We don’t weep at the open tomb, wondering what happened. We don’t need to sit behind locked doors out of fear. We are living, breathing examples of Jesus if we put down our need to be righteous and just.
The world needs faith and actions—grace and works. The world needs the living, breathing CHURCH of Jesus Christ to rise up and build relationships where they have been broken or harmed. The CHURCH does not need to tear itself apart with disaffiliations of congregations but needs to realize that the thing that binds us together is the body and blood of Jesus. I have no time for hate. I have no more energy to spend on the things that aren’t of God. I have two hands and a bible; that is all I need to do kingdom work.
When did you last invite a stranger for a hot meal? Or perhaps someone that you don’t know that well in your congregation? You can learn a lot about a person from sharing a hot meal. My point is this: build a larger table, a larger vision, and a relationship with someone you don’t know. Make a friend and be blessed in the blessing of the sharing of hearts and lives.
I am reminded that one of the first things that Jesus did after the resurrection was to go to the shoreline, cooked fish and bread, and share a meal with his disciples. Perhaps there is something to learn from Jesus—a hot meal and a conversation. Faith speaks; actions echo throughout the world, making all the difference.