Faith Without Works is Dead


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Once again we have been witness to a mass shooting and once again everyone drops to their knees and starts praying.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe in prayer and I believe in the power of prayer but there has to be some action associated with that prayer.

There are some situations that we simply cannot pray ourselves out of.  There is an old story about a man stuck on his roof and the water is rising.  Along come a boat, and a helicopter and other such things to rescue the man from the roof of his house.  He tells them all no thanks, God will save me.  Well the man dies and standing before God the man asks God why he did not save him.  God says, I sent you a boat and a helicopter what more did you want?

We have the ability to start a discussion about real reform.  I for one do not understand why someone needs to own an assault rifle and 1600 rounds of ammunition that can pierce body armor.  I was not present when the framers of the US Constitution were doing their thing but I am certain this is not what they had in mind.  You want to own a gun to hunt, great.  You want to own a gun for personal protection, great.  I don’t believe you need to own an automatic one.

Am I praying, yes I am praying for the victims of this shooting and for the politicians who need to have their hearts softened and get off the payroll of the NRA and do something.  If you are one who is praying, and I hope you are, then you need to follow this up with action and call or write to your politicians and demand serious reform this is how things get done we simply cannot pray this way.

One of my favorite books in the Bible is the Letter of St. James.  It is a wonderful pastoral letter about all sorts of things but it begins by talking about faith and works and how a faith that has no works is a dead faith.  It is not enough to just believe we have to do something with that belief.  We cannot simply go to church, say a few prayers, and hope someone else does the work, we are required to work.  If your faith does not move you to action your faith is dead, there I said it!  If you do not know what to do, ask someone, hand wringing is no longer an option.

The relevant passage from the Letter of St. James is posted below.  Read it, meditate on it, and I hope it moves you to action.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.  James 2:14-26

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