Faith and Works…random thoughts

This was originally published as a Facebook note on June 25, 2010.

So I don’t know why this came up, but the other day I was sitting out at Inspiration Point (beautiful corner of camp with an incredible view over a valley and a lake) just praying, when all of a sudden I was thinking about the story of the woman who touched Jesus cloak and was healed. Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” (Luke 8:48)

So which was it that healed her, the touching or the faith? The faith. Would she have gotten healed if she hadn’t touched Jesus? No. Standing back as one of the crowd would not have helped her a bit. So really, it was both…the faith and the action.

James 2:17 “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” I have never really liked this verse. It confused me. I think most of the evangelical church recoils a bit at the word “works.” We start screaming “grace! grace!” and point to passages like Ephesians 2:8-9.

But I don’t think that kind of works is what James was talking about. He’s not giving a quota of “good deeds” you have to do in order to prove that your faith is genuine. I think the kind of works he’s talking about is more in line with what we mean when we say “faith is spelled R-I-S-K.”

The example he gives is of Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac, in what was pretty much blind obedience. James writes, “You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works.” (2:22) They work together. Standing around believing does you less than no good; even the demons believe, James says. Faith is made complete by action, by acting on that belief. It’s the action of trusting and following that takes you where God wants you. It’s the old “believing in the chair is useless until you sit in the chair” analogy. Standing there saying “I believe God can heal that person” helps nothing. You’ve gotta step up, step out, and RISK if you want to see God move. ACT on your belief.

Abraham’s faith wasn’t in his “good works.” It was in jumping off the cliff, in doing the unthinkable out of sheer obedience.

This is faith made perfect, faith made alive by its actions.

Cell phone pic…view of Lake Gregory from Inspiration Point. Dive Deep.
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