Faith is more than pew-warming. James said it first, not me. He chides the recipents of his epsitle for the lack of action. Sure, they knew all the right answers. They could quote Bible, book, chapter and verse of course. But when it came time to put faith in action, some in the congregation just warmed the pew. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widos in their distress and to keep onself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:26-27), and he goes on to write in chapter two, verse 14 and following, ” 14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 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? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder. 20 You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our ancestor 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. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”
A couple of observations:
Genuine, Biblical faith, will emulate Jesus Christ. Sometimes, being a person of faith demands that we get our hands and feet dirty for Jesus. Faith demands that we go places that make us uncomfortable to help those in need. Faith demands that we don’t merely attend Bible classes and worship services but that we infiltrate our communities with the compassion and mercy of our Savior. The Church is full of folks who have faith, but the Church and our world needs more people who are willing to leave the safety of the pew for the turbulent world of poverty, starvation and illness. James’ words hit home this morning. Let’s move forward in faith, and be the people of God that faith demands we be.