James 2:14-22 New International Version (NIV)
Faith and Deeds
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.
All Faith, No Work?
Once again on Friday, May 18, 2018, terrorist style school shooting took in America. If this tragic incident follows its predecessors, a lot of things will happen. However, very little of it will be meaningful action. For some reason, gun violence and several other issues in America seem to have fallen into an unspoken category of “unfixable.” Along with gun violence, poverty, healthcare, and living wages are routinely described in public discourse as insurmountable problems that are beyond the scope of societal resources.
I find it quite ironic that in a country that staunchly advocates the separation of church and state, politicians only can provide thoughts and prayers for many issues that plague our society. What is even more troubling is the number of clergy rushing in to support the lack of action taken by politicians on these same issues. Politicians refusing to do more than talk about issues is one thing. However, clergy giving moral validity to the absence of action being taken is both hypocritical and blasphemous. It’s hypocritical because these self-same clergy often have no hesitation in demanding legislative action on issues like abortion, immigration, or marriage.
It’s this type of blasphemy that is showing in our text: James 2: 14-22. James makes it explicitly clear in verses 16 and 17 that is pointless to simply talk about helping people. Moreover, we are told in verses 20-22 that father Abraham had to prove his faith by works, not words. Yes, the issues facing our society are complex and costly, but our Christian faith demands that we apply more than thoughts and prayers to the issues that ail our community.