Summary: Faith, if is real is revealed by us responding to life in a new and different way
OPEN: Today we are going to be looking into what I think really is one of those life-changing passages of the Bible if you really understand what it says. Our passage today is James 2:14-26 James is a book that teaches us how faith works in real life. He's a pastor that addresses real practical, down to earth issues we all face in everyday life. He's been teaching us about the trials we face -- how to respond to temptation -- he's shown us what real faith looks like to our Heavenly father (taking care of widows and orphans) For the last couple of weeks he's been talking to us about not showing favoritism towards anyone -- because we are all loved equally in God's eyes. Faith, if is real is revealed by us responding to life in a new and different way.
How many of you have heard of the great tightrope walker, BLONDIN? He was one of the greatest tightrope walkers of all time, and there are many legends told of feats he performed. He was obsessed with the idea of crossing the falls on a tightrope. He made many trips across the gorge and became a well known daredevil in the area. He balanced a chair on the rope and stood on it. He took pictures of the crowd while he balanced on the rope. Once he cooked a meal on a small portable cooker and lowered it to amazed passengers on the Maid of the Mist below. He crossed blindfolded, in a sack, on stilts. But perhaps the most well known act was when he pushed a wheel barrow across. Blondin got to the other side and the crowd went wild, shouting and cheering. Blondin said, "I'm going to do it again." He got to the other side and the crowds went crazy. Blondin said, "I'm going to do it again but this time how many believe I can push a wheel barrow full of dirt?" He pushes the wheelbarrow across. He got to the other side. Then he asked, "How many believe I can push a wheelbarrow across the tightrope with a man sitting in it?" Again, there was a loud response. Blondin then dumped out the dirt and pointed to one of the most enthusiastic men in the audience, and said, "Okay, you get into the wheelbarrow." Needless to say, the man made a quick exit. Blondin demonstrated that there is often a great difference between the faith we SAY we have, and the faith we really have. There is often a big difference between what we say we believe and the faith we actually have.
The measure of our faith is NOT our "talk" -- it's our "walk" It's what we are prepared to do.
- The Primary Issue the world has with the Church is there is too much talk and too little action to back it up. I think Jesus actually anticipated this when he said
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matt. 5:16)
- What's going to cause the world to turn towards God -- this verse says it's when the world sees our good deeds. I think one of the big turn offs for a lot of people in our culture is that the church talks and talks and talks but they don't do anything. The impression by many is that the church is a place that gathers together to take stuff from them, rather than a group of people who are gathered together to do stuff for others and care for them. My prayer is that EBC would be a church that has a reputation as being a church that gives and cares for others. We talked about it last week: we said that our purpose in coming in here is to give God glory and to be a giver to others. When you came in here this morning did you come with the mindset that you want to give to others -- are you are looking for someone to minister to care for? Did you come with that kind of a heart?
- Do you know of a church that is known as a giving church? We know churches that are known for its great outreach -- others that are known for its teaching -- others for missions -- but do I know a church that is known for its giving -- known for its heart for the poor and afflicted -- has a heart for giving and helping others in need.
Ill -- What the Christian Church looks like to the rest of the world. The team gets out onto the field and their in the huddle. The quarterback calls the play, they say "Break" and the quarterback goes over to run the play but all the players run back to sit back down on the bench. And then the next play comes up and they all get together in their little huddle and the quarterback calls the play and the they say, "Break" and then they all run back to the sidelines to see what's going to happen as the games continues on. That's exactly what the church looks like to the rest of the world. The Team gets together once a week and the quarterback reads a play out of the game book. "this week we are going to love our enemies." Everybody says, "Yes! Great play! Let's do it!" And we run back over to the sidelines and we sit back down on the bench. (While we are sitting on the bench we'll talk about whether we like the play or don't like the call) We come back next week - we can't wait to get back into the huddle -- can't wait to hear him call another play that we won't run. That's the way the world sees the church -- that's why Jesus says -- let them see your good deeds so that then they will glorify your Father in heaven.