Dead faith? Oxymoron or horrific truth?

James 2:14-26

As a high school teacher in a public school, I often hear conversations of my students that bring me to the horrifying reality that America is no longer a country under God. For example, a student the other day tried implying that Jesus had inappropriate relationships with the disciples. Another today stated that the word “worship” seems demonic. And to hear how they talk about Jesus, as if He deserved to die, honestly breaks my heart. It hurts to think that so many of our youth, of our world, are denying Christ. And not only do they deny Him, they’re constantly putting Him on the cross. I really want to have a “Come to Jesus” meeting with these misinformed children, because frankly I am sick and tired of Christ getting a bad rap. They have been fed lies from the dumb devil. They have seen Christians fall over and over, and honestly, what’s the difference? There are several “good” people out there that aren’t Christians, so why should they become one of the hypocrites?

So as I reread this section, a little light bulb went off. Faith without works is dead. A person can talk the talk, but if they’re not walking the walk, then what is the point? See, I don’t believe James was trying to convince the church that they became saved through their works. No, that would dilute the truth: We are saved through the blood of Christ alone. But he makes an interesting argument about faith and works. Let’s set the stage for a minute. In America, we see more ungodly people taking care of the poor, needy, and hurting than we see most Christians. For example, the Pitt-Jolie clan doesn’t just send money to help poor children in third world countries. Shoot, they adopt them all! And how about Monster Mama, Lady Gaga, who is sucessfully helps the youth feel accepted as they are, where they are. I’m pretty sure that JESUS DID THAT ONE FIRST! Ohhhhhhhhhhhh wait! HE ADOPTED US FIRST, TOO! Snap! Crackle! Pop! Man, society looks up to the fallible humans as if they are doing something amazing, but God already did it! Now let me be very clear here: When men and women step out of their comfort zones to help out others, that is honorable. The point I am trying to make is this: If I am a Christian and yet I do not help out my fellow man, what is the difference between me and someone who damns Jesus?

So point number one comes from verses 15 – 17, “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” We need to step up to the plate. It’s our turn to bat, the pitcher is ready to throw us a curve ball, but are we ready to hit it? I can study all I want about baseball. I can learn all the ins and outs and how the averages mean something. I could watch “Money Ball” over and over and over to the point where I finally get what those numbers mean. But if I never put that knowledge into practice, I am never going to be able to hit that 100 mph curve ball. I can study the word of God. I can read His directions for how I should be living, but if I never put it into practice, than what’s the difference? I have dead faith.

“Wait one minute,” you say. “But I believe in God! That has to count for something,” you say. James clearly responds: “You believe there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.”  When was the last time you shuddered in God’s presence? When was the last time you used His name in reverence because of His holiness? This is a reality check for all of us. The demons believe in God. Satan knows there is only one God. The arrogant fallen angel has fought against His Majesty forever! Yet, not even Christians have that kind of faith, that kind of knowledge to realize just who He is and who we are. We fight and war against God every day because He is calling us to act on a higher level. It’s our turn to bat. Will it be a home run or a pop fly? Are we willing to step beyond just saying we believe and ready to see God work in and through our deeds?

Look at Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 15. God asked Abraham to step out on faith, come up to bat, and trust God with his only son. Now, God had promised that Abraham would be the father of many generations. But at this moment, God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son, the one who was to begin this series of generations. Was God being cruel? Some who don’t know who God is would write the Father off at this moment as being a lunatic and never entertain the thought of a relationship with Him again. But look further into their story. Abraham trusted God, because he knew God. So Abraham acted on his faith. He jumped out of his comfort zone and not just believed, but knew that God was going to provide a way out. And God did! God did not want Isaac to die. On the contrary, He wanted to prove Himself to Abraham, to prove that He will take care of all things.  James says that because of Abraham’s faithfulness, God called him “friend.” A friend of God. Whoa! I want to be a friend of God.

This experience brings me to point two: God will give us opportunities to put our faith to work. It’s our obedience to follow that sets us apart. Bobby and I recently bought a house. Now, one would think that though buying your first house can be stressful, never ever did I anticipate it being this stressful. We began our search in March knowing we had to be out of our apartments by June 30. We went through five contracts, two home inspections, and thirty days before we had to be out, we  finally found our home. Then the day before closing we realized that the mortgage guy had failed miserably at getting our stuff together. His replacement, because he was conveniently sick that week we closed, thankfully caught his error. Essentially she had to redo our whole application in a day due to his errors. Why do I relate this story to you? Because for this simple reason: We had 30 days to find a home for our babies and in our location, the market isn’t good for regular sale homes. We have an overwhelming amount of bank owned and short sales, but those were taking forever. Y’all, I really had to trust God through this whole process. After loosing contract after contract and seeing days on the calendar pass and boxes in our apartment consume the place, I began to fret and worry. I wanted to make things work, and force the puzzle pieces together instead of stepping out on faith and believing God’s promises. I am so thankful for my husband’s faith, though. He knows God. He knew God would take care of us now just as He had taken care of us so many times before.   So when I began to doubt, Bobby knew God’s promises just as Abraham knew God’s promises. And God delivered. He provided an amazing home for us that has turned into a safe haven for the many young adults we minister to through our church.

In Abraham’s case, God brought forth an animal to be sacrificed instead of the boy. In our case, God showed Bobby our perfect home and it has been more than I could have ever dreamed of. God was testing my faith, and I had moments of doubt because I lost sight of who God is. I have the head knowledge of God, but I’m still learning to have the heart knowledge. I know how the game works, but when given the chance to play I fall short. Yet, my God is loving,  gracious, and merciful. He loves me enough to keep giving me chances to come up to bat. I’m not the last one picked for His team. Just because I mess up, He doesn’t give up on me. He is the same as yesterday and today. He will always provide.  I was trying to solve a problem that God had already solved. He was waiting on me to slow down and seek Him for the answers.

I will wrap this up tonight with two questions. One, have we been taking care of those who need it and showing how Christ loves where we’re at and who we are? Two, when given a trial do we allow our faith in God to remind us that He is bigger than this or do we allow our flesh to come in and push Him away?  I hope we all realize that every day we are given these opportunities to prove to an unbelieving, ungodly world that God is!

Heavenly Father,

I thank you that when I screw up and I try to take over for you, that You lovingly put me in my place. I pray that Your words will speak truth to us as we walk on this earth.

In your precious name,

Amen!

I hope y’all have a great night!

Brayden

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