Summary: Active Faith is a a faith that shows itself in our actions.
There is an old story that tells of a man who was traveling on his donkey when he came upon a small fuzzy object lying in the road. He dismounted to look more closely and found a sparrow lying on its back with its scrawny legs thrust upward. At first he thought the bird was dead, but closer investigation proved it to be very much alive. The man asked the sparrow if he was all right. The sparrow replied, "Yes." The man asked, "What are you doing lying on your back with your legs pointed towards the sky?" The sparrow responded that he had heard a rumor that the sky was falling, and so he was holding his legs up to catch it. The man retorted, "You surely don’t think that you’re going to hold it up with those two scrawny legs, do you?" The sparrow, with a very solemn look, replied, "One does the best he can."
Have you demonstrated faith at any time this week? Have you been called to show faith to someone or in something?
I am positive that all of us have not just this week but even since you got up this morning.
Did you have faith that your clock went of at the right time? When you reached for the light switch were you surprised when the light came on? How about the car cranked or that I showed up this morning? Were you personally surprised by any f those little details of daily life? So in the last few hours and this week you have exhibited faith that the things you know about our world are true most of the time and by faith your went through the week using the phone, turning lights on and off heading for a red light in the car (breaks) and any number of other automatic responses, hundreds of times.
We often talk about how hard it is to exhibit our faith but we ignore all the other times that we do it everyday. How is it that we can divide faith into different categories, the stuff we depend on everyday and the faith that there is a God and a judgment to come.
In our scripture today, we hear from James. He is said to be the half brother of Jesus. Some believe that Paul and James say something different about faith but I believe that if you read the text for your self you will find that they actually agree. They just say it in different ways. Today we will just look at what James says.
He starts with a question. What good is it if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? I don’t know about you but as a kid I have has someone claim to be my friend, because they wanted me to do something. They normally did not want to do things for me.
I have heard politicians claim to be this or that or for or against and later learn that it may not have been true and perhaps even a plane old lie.
Then James gives another more biting question. Can such faith save us? Today we are looking into what James is saying about faith and works. We are looking at his explanation of the signs that a person really has faith.
James gives an example of peoples actions. He talks about a Christian meeting up with a brother or sister (Christians) that are in trouble. They are having trouble with the bills, normal basic needs. We aren’t talking about the Cable TV or cell phone. We are talking about food and clothes. Perhaps something happened with the job or a health problem that wipes out their energy and money. A fellow Christian sees their need when they see each other, listens to the problems and says I’ll pray for you and wishes them good luck. They don’t do anything to help them beyond visual concern and kind words. What good is it? Then he says that faith is like that, if there is no action then it is dead. What good is it? If there is not activity in faith then there is no life.
He is pointing out that people that would do this have missed the basic prinicpal. Their faith is dead because they are not responding to obvious need. They are not responding and allowing the Grace of God to be generous and caring through them.
He continues as if he is in a verbal discussion, indicating what some people might say. You have faith I have Works. Then he gives his response, Show me your faith without deeds and I will show you my faith by what I do.
What are the deeds he is talking about here? Is it taking care of the poor and needy in the church? I think it is more than that. That was already established years before, especially for those within the church. Remember the distribution of food to the widows early on. I really feel that James is using an accepted work of the church to bring the understanding if the Christians to a higher level. James’ letter is being written to the Christians who are dispersed into all the nations. These are the people that wanted to avoid persecution and moved to get out of the way of trouble. They carried their faith with them. But I suspect that wanting to avoid trouble they just met up with friends and did not share the message.