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James: Blue Collar Faith

James 2:14-17

What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?

So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

"I'm a good person." That's what I used to say.

"I don't do all that religious stuff, but I'm a good person."

That should be enough. I remember thinking that after I interviewed for a teaching job at a small Christian school. They basically said they would hire me if I "converted."

I wasn't a believer at the time.

It was an interesting time in my life. I was fresh out of college. My English degree still sparkled in the sunlight and I thought of myself as a pretty educated guy in my early 20s.

I didn't get the job. I also wrote a very well worded letter to the principal that stated my frustration with their request, and let them know they missed out on a great opportunity. I probably even mentioned something about being a good person.

It never would have worked out anyway. They had no idea I was living with my girlfriend (who is now my wife), or that I drank regularly. I'm sure that information would have gone over real well.

In retrospect, they did miss out on an opportunity to be Jesus to someone, to minister to them, and teach them that following God wasn't about being religious. It wasn't about blindly following a God who never made himself known. They had a chance to be the visible and tangible evidence of Jesus that I was looking for.

They could have put their faith into action, but instead they were too busy trying to find someone who fit their mold.

I wish I could say that lesson stuck with me when I finally accepted God's gift of salvation (within a year of that interview). I certainly had a chance to take that non-example and use it to strengthen my faith, and my resolve to move out into the world, on mission with/for God. Instead, I spent a lot of years as a closet Christian, trying to hide my faith for fear someone might laugh at me, put me down, or even worse, ask me questions.

Fortunately, God put the right people in my life to help me strengthen my faith, and give me the opportunity to talk about what it is I believe. And now, I get to use the gifts/talents God has blessed me with to write about that faith.

The next step, the step that Blake talked about this past Sunday, is to move out into our community and show my faith by loving others. It's a step that many churches spend a lot of time talking about, but put little effort into actually doing.

"We are a people on mission moving out in ever widening circles to change our world."

Jesus loved us so much that he died for us. Jesus didn't just believe in God's plan, he knew it.

When my son was born I didn't believe that I loved him, I knew I loved him. And because of that love, I was moved to action. I did whatever I could to make sure he was healthy, that he had what he needed, and that he knew I loved him. The actions have changed over the years, but the love is the same. Likewise, how we serve God might change over time, but the love remains the same. The love that God had for us the day Jesus died on the cross is the same love he had for us the day he breathed life into Adam and brought Jesus back from the dead. It's the same love he has for us today, tomorrow, and into eternity.

When we make that switch from just being a believer to being a follower, then we are equipped to do God's work. I could say that it is all well and good to be a believer, but if we aren't moved to action, then do we truly believe what we say we believe? Can we say we know God loves us? Or, do we still convince ourselves that he can't love us because of what we've done in the past?

God loves us so much that he took action. Shouldn't we do the same?

It's kind of funny, I didn't get that job because I wasn't a Christian. I guess you could say that because of my lack of faith, I couldn't work.

Join us this Sunday as we close our series on the Book of James. Come find out how you can put your love into action.