Christianity is a Contact Sport !
Many people have this mental picture of church. People sitting in neat little rows listening to whatever their pastor has to say that week. In the picture some people have in their minds, when the preaching is over everybody goes home to the rest of their lives until next Sunday. This passive approach is not what our faith is meant to be. Christianity is an active faith !
One of the key verses where we find this is in,
“My brothers and sisters, what good is it if people say they have faith but do nothing to show it ? Claiming to have faith can’t save anyone can it ? Imagine a brother or sister who is naked and never has enough food to eat. What if one of you said, “ Go in peace ! Stay warm ! Have a nice meal !?” What good is it if you don’t actually give them what their body needs ? In the same way, faith is dead when it doesn’t result in faithful activity.”
James is not saying that faith or salvation results from good works. What he is saying is that our good works are the fruit of our faith. Good works are the natural extension of the faith that grows inside us.
The concern James is expressing more than anything concerns how the personal example we display to the world reflects our faith to others. While working on this article I was reminded of the words of St. Francis,
“Preach the gospel always. If necessary use words.”
What St. Francis is telling us is that if our actions are what they should be 1) people will know we are Christian without the need for us to tell them. 2) That the more we display our faith through our actions, the more others will want to be like us, thus advancing the faith.
I myself have taught much the same thought this way,
“ Your day to day actions say more about your faith, than any words you could speak. Remember your personal example is often your most powerful ministry.”
It is important to understand that one of the most vital ministries the average Christian has is the example they put forth to others. All Christians to some degree are judged by how each of us conduct ourselves. We have all seen the so called “Sunday Christians.” Oh they put on a good show ! All pious and holier than thou every Sunday, but they are anything but Christian the other six days of the week ! Untold multitudes have been driven from Christianity and their salvation by such hypocrites.
Lets now look at what The Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians in
“You are saved by God’s grace because of your faith. This salvation is God’s gift. It is not something you possessed. It’s not something you did that you can be proud of. Instead we are God’s accomplishment,created in Christ Jesus to do good things. God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives.”
We see here that God’s plan is that we do good things through our faith. Paul here clearly states that we were not created to be still ! Our Christian faith was designed with this in mind. Our faith should embolden and empower us to action ! It is also important to note the aspect of humility that Paul teaches should be part of this idea. While we should be proud of being Christians, we should be mindful that our salvation is from God’s grace and not our own doing. The good works we do should not be for attention or any other reward (although such things may come without our trying) our salvation which we have already received is our reward.
It is important to remember that our faith is more than just mere words. We were created to give hands and feet to God’s word. No person is saved to save them alone. We are saved so that we can lead others down the path we ourselves have traveled. We are saved so that we can lead others to salvation. As important as the study of God’s word is, it cannot fulfill itself without us. If we cannot get up from our couches and pews and act on what we read and hear, Our faith will fall short.