Just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. James 2:26
You would have to be stranded on Gilligan’s island to be unaware that we’re right in the middle of an election year: promises by politicians, prognostication by pundits, and perplexity by the populace are all sure signs that we the people will presently have to appear at the polls and pick our next public servants.
Even the Professor knows that.
He also would know that none of our elected officials worked their way into office – we the people freely granted them that position by casting our vote for them. Some of the current crop we’ve hired have been, admittedly, disappointing. After all, we choose our government leaders with the clear understanding that they will do something positive for our country. Lately, however, it seems that nothing much at all is getting done.
Party A doesn’t want to (as my grandmother would say) “play pretty” with Party B for whatever reasons (power-grabbing, orneriness, low blood sugar) and all too often things end up in a stalemate. Oh, they’re all still in office (for now) but, for the most part, they’re certainly not being productive or fruitful. For all that’s getting done, we may as well have a bunch of dead bodies sitting across the aisle from each other.
There are actually similarities between Christians and members of the various branches of government (stay with me here). Just like my representatives, senators, or president, I didn’t work my way into spiritual “office” – the position of Christian was freely granted to me. In like manner, as James indicates in verse 26 of chapter 2 (above) there is a clear understanding that I will do something positive after I’m elected. If I don’t, according to James, my faith is dead; not non-existent, but kind of like a dead battery – ineffective and powerless, but with the potential to be revived under the right conditions.
In truth, an elected government official doesn’t actually have to do anything productive while he or she is in office. I imagine more than a few have given into the temptation to just sit back in one of the Congressional office buildings and enjoy a paid vacation for two or four or six years, basking in the glamour and prestige of being a lawmaker without actually doing what we chose him or her to do. However, at the end of that two- or four- or six-year term, we the people can vote him or her off the hill.
Although God won’t pull the lever to vote me out of office if I just sit back and do nothing, that begs the question: If there is no evidence I’m a follower of Jesus, was I ever saved in the first place?
C. S. Lewis writes:
If conversion to Christianity makes no improvement in a man’s outward actions – if he continues to be just as snobbish or spiteful or envious or ambitious as he was before – then I think we must suspect that his “conversion” was largely imaginary.
As folk who are much, much, much more learned than I have debated that question without coming to agreement, let me just say that for me personally, I tend to agree with Mr. Lewis and with James, who says in verse 18: “I will show you my faith by what I do.” In Paul’s letter to Titus (3:8), he tells him specifically how church members should behave “so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good.” (Emphasis mine.)
Please know that there was nothing I could do to gain salvation except by faith in Christ alone. Now that I’m saved, though, doing something is important. (You may recall in my post Possible the list of things I did pre-salvation trying to impress God – to no avail.) I need to show my thanks for God’s saving grace by using what He’s given me to further His kingdom, like taking part in the worship and prayer ministries at my church and sharing what he’s done for me here on “clay.” It’s also important to me to make sure that I honor God through my giving and in daily prayer and Bible study.
Although some of those things are pretty standard for any Christian, not everyone needs to have a blog, of course – but we do all need to serve God in the unique ways in which He calls us. In 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 Paul says:
- 4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.
- 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.
- 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.
So to quote my tennis shoes, “Just do it:” visit the sick or the lost, cook a meal for someone who needs it, invite someone to church (give them a ride if necessary), send encouraging cards, send your pastor an encouraging email, teach Sunday school, volunteer at the children’s home or the homeless shelter, sing in the choir, greet folks at the door, support missions, change diapers in the nursery, pray without ceasing, read your Bible, read your Bible, read your Bible.
‘Cause – just like a battery without any juice – faith without deeds is dead.
If I’m elected, however, I promise a pair of jumper cables in every pot.