14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Can this kind of faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm and eat well,” but you do not give them what the body needs, what good is it? 17 So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead being by itself. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith without works and I will show you faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; well and good. Even the demons believe that—and tremble with fear. James 2:14-19 (NET)
Have you ever heard someone say that “Christianity is a relationship, not a religion”? I have trouble with this expression. For example, I have many relationships that have very little to do with my day-to-day life. Relationships are important, but they have little authority over what I do or think or say. Religion is different. It influences every part of my life, including my relationships. More than that, though, religion shapes my identity. Religion is more than belief. Religion is what I do.
This is why it’s important to remember that faith leads to action. I used to think of my faith in terms of what I believed, or in terms of how Jesus saved me from the consequences of my sinfulness. Yes, Jesus saves me from hell, but I dare not forget that I need to be saved from sin in my daily life as well. James writes in 4:17: “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”
Christian faith is more than a belief, and it is more than a relationship; Christianity is something that changes what I do and how I speak. Christianity is not just something that I believe is true. It is part of who I am. James was right when he said that “faith without works is dead,” not because we are saved by our own works, but because Christ works in us and through us.
Prayer suggestion: Jesus, what would you have me do today?
Published in Fall 2018 edition of Fruit of the Vine