Why we should be concerned!
“Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world…. Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense? I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department; I’ll handle the works department.” Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove. (James 1:27, 2:14-18 from The Message).”
Paul comes right out and declares it. Faith without works is dead! (James 2:17 NIV). Let’s face it, too often Christians are complacent. Ready to sit back and enjoy the blessings that they feel God has bestowed upon them. Our society has made it really easy for us to organize our lives so that we are rarely if ever are confronted with the poor and disenfranchised of this world. One Christian even declared to me once, “what’s the big deal? If God wants to feed the hungry, God is more than capable. God doesn’t need us to do anything!”
It is true that God doesn’t need us, but what we fail to see is that we so desperately need God. I am not referring here to the hungry and homeless (although they too need God) but to us, the average American Christian who has what they need, and does not worry about where they will be sleeping or what they will be eating tomorrow. We are the ones in desperate need of God. We just don’t always know it.
In the above scripture, Paul challenges the church to realize the truth that Our faith will die if it is not put into practice. Once our faith dies, our experience of God on a daily basis goes with it. Barriers of sin result between us and God – barriers that result in us being unable to experience all of God’s wondrous blessings. If we ignore others, we become increasingly selfish. The sin of selfishness eats away at our relationship with God, creating yet even more barriers. If we avoid self-sacrifice, we never learn to trust God to provide, and our faith will not grow. Instead it will wither and die.
These truths are repeated throughout scripture. They are reflected in God’s love for the poor, homeless and hungry – for those who are abandoned by society. Too often Christians fall into the mindset that I need to do some good works to earn points in Heaven so that God won’t be too mad at me. This is false! We need to reach out and feed the hungry because it is essential to our own welfare, to our own spiritual growth. Often people ask me “Where is God? Why can’t I find God? Sense or feel God?” My answer; “If you want to find God, go hang out with the poor, the homeless, and the hungry. For that is where you will find God working in abundance. That is where you learn to grow your faith and experience of God.”
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