What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 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? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:14-17 (NIV)
A faith that works is . . . a faith that works. :)
James is an epistle or letter to the early church about how, as Christians, we are to live our lives. I would say that James' idea of faith gnaws on our hearts a little bit. He says it’s not enough to say “I’ll pray for you,” we’re also called to do something to help.
In 2018, Dale and Ellen Niebuhr experienced this “gnawing” on Southwood’s mission trip to Uswaa, our sister church in Tanzania. On a mission trip to Uswaa you are immersed in the community. You stay at the church, attend worship services, visit homes within the parish, visit schools where Southwood members sponsor students, experience a marketplace where people sell produce and handmade products, take walks in the community as well as trips to nearby towns. You get to know people and learn about their lives. Dale and Ellen had watched sponsors and students meeting together at schools, they had helped with the large meeting with all the scholarship students that people at Southwood sponsor. They had visited homes where the scholarship students lived. Before we left to come home, Dale and Ellen had decided to sponsor a student.
I don’t believe it was an accident that Dale and Ellen were on that trip or that they felt moved to sponsor a student. I believe it was their faith that moved them to action. Their faith guided them to come on the trip and then to sponsor a student.
What calls to you at Southwood? Where do you see a need and how would you like to support it? Giving to the General Fund – keeping the lights on, paying the salaries of those who are instrumental (accidental pun?) in our worship, spiritual growth and service is foundational to the work of the church. There are also many ways to physically serve – within Southwood, in the community and globally.
The church is a nonprofit organization – though I’d have to say that many profit from our giving to the church! Everything you give is used to do God’s work. And here’s the deal, giving isn’t a requirement. But giving is the pathway to a life lived through faith. Giving is how we fulfill our purpose. Through giving, we grow close to God.
How is your faith working? How is Jesus gnawing at your heart?
Questions for Reflection:
- How are faith and works both a part of a growing Christian’s life?
- What are some ways your life shows you have a meaningful relationship with Jesus?
Gracious and giving Lord, through Jesus’ life, you showed us what a living faith looks like. Through Southwood, you have provided us with ways to give and live out that faith. Open my eyes Lord so I will see how I can live out my faith. Open my heart Lord, so I will do it. Amen.