Read James 2
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” (Ephesians 2:10)
There is this comedian by the name of Emo Phillips that a pastor I served under used to quote all the time. Emo is a really tall, lanky, and odd looking guy who, at least on appearance, seems to be quite eccentric to say the least. Just looking at him you get the immediate sense that this guy is going to be funny.
Emo bases his stand up routines on a lot of different subjects. From politics to history to religion, Emo touches on them all. I always found his religious jokes to be quite funny, not just because they way in which he presents them, but also because there is a level of truth to what he is saying. Often he’ll start off with something commonly held by Christians, and then go somewhere in left field with it.
One of his stand up routines went something like this. “When I was a kid,” Emo would reminisce, “I used to pray every night for a new bicycle.” After making a praying gesture and looking up to the sky, Emo looks back at the audience and concludes, “Then I realised that the Lord, in all His infinite wisdom, doesn’t work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me.”
While this is funny, it also points to a misconception about Christianity, one that was pointed out in the letter of James. This very misconception was also something that John Wesley, in his day and age, had to deal with. In the Protestant Church, most Christians, Wesley himself included, came to the conclusion that we were saved by our faith in Christ…and by that faith alone…that we could not work or earn our way into salvation; however, despite how liberating that revelation of Martin Luther’s is, it also led some to believe that there was no need for good works.
While John Wesley, and Wesleyan Christians since him, affirmed that we are saved by faith alone, it is also safe to say that such a faith would bear the fruit of good works. Wesley believed a Christian evidenced “their desire of salvation” by, “in part, doing good of every possible sort” (Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church 2012, 52). In other words, a person of faith will not sit by the wayside doing nothing to bring the hope, healing and wholeness of God into the world around them. A faith that does not produce fruit is no faith at all. As James puts it, “a faith without works is dead” (James 4:??).
Have you experienced hope, healing and wholeness in God, through Jesus the Christ? Have you experienced the eternal, unconditional love of God? Have you come to faith in that love? Have you come to faith in Jesus Christ? If so, then you are a transformed person, one who lives by faith…one who serves because of your faith. You are called to life of service, you are called to be the hands and feet of Christ. I pray that, if you haven’t already, you answer that call.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” – John Wesley
Lord, use me as your agent of hope, healing and wholeness and lead me, through my faith in you, to do all the good that I can. Amen.