14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 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? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
As a Christian, it is important to be genuine in our faith and our convictions. Why is this the case? Certainly we are called to external ethics and to follow Christ with our lives, but this external display of our faith is meant to be born of an internal relationship with Christ. This is illustrated by Jesus when He says in the gospel of Luke…
The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Lk 6:45
Our actions should be motivated out of our hearts. We should seek to act because of our heart condition. As much as we are called to an internal relationship with Christ, we are called to do good.
Why is this an important thing to understand as a Christian? It would be an understatement to say that we live in a connected society. We get what seems to be a constant stream of the subconscious of friends and family through Facebook, constant text messages, and other social media. In some ways it is scary, in other ways it represents an opportunity for working out our faith. Interaction in our culture is cheap and often times meaningless, but with the constant place of social media, we have a tremendous opportunity to share in other’s struggles, lift others up in prayer, and encourage people in godliness. The problem we can have is that so often we are so inundated with all of this information about people’s lives, that the information becomes meaningless rather than being an opportunity to minister to that person. Here is the typical Facebook interaction;
“oh, John Doe’s cancer is back… bummer”
“Ha ha ha… a funny picture of a grumpy cat”
Often times, we are so immersed in the lives of our friends and acquaintances, that we actually miss the lives of our friends and acquaintances. We miss the needs they have, we miss opportunities to encourage and lift them up in prayer. We often times are more concerned in looking at Facebook than the people that it represents. In my mind I connect James 2 to this. In fact, let me give a modern paraphrase of this passage…
If your brother or sister is in a terrible place in life and struggling and in pain, and one of you simply “likes” or “shares” their post, and leaves them without help or prayers, what good is it?
How do we live with active faith in a society where people’s struggles and difficulties are visible to the world? We respond to them. We seek to encourage them in their struggles. We pray for them, and let them know that we are praying for them. We send them a letter (See this Link if you forgot what a letter is), to encourage them and to offer help or a listening ear. We give them a call and say that we are ready and willing to lend a serving hand. Our world may be changing, but our responsibility to minister, encourage, lift up in prayer, and speak truth to others on their behalf will never become obsolete or without value. As Christians, we are called to worship and rejoice with, pray for, encourage, and serve our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are called to show the love of Christ to nonbelievers and to share the gospel with them. In a society where true community is a rare thing, we need to add actions to our faith and be involved in doing good. Not getting into everyone’s business, but being open and ready for every opportunity to be Christ to others. Faith makes active Christians. Be active.