Faith is Action ??? or ??? Actions Speak Louder than Words.

20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

James 2:20-24

On Sunday, Vince preached on the Official’s Son in John; in this passage, the Official’s son is deathly ill, and Jesus tells him (after giving him a hard time) to go home, his son was healed. The man has nothing to go on but faith in Jesus’ word. And on his way home, he finds out his son was healed at the moment Jesus said he was.

There could have been an alternate ending to this story, though. The success of this sign hinged on the man’s persistence and belief. When Jesus laments the unbelief of the current generation rather than directly reply to the Official’s request, I don’t think any of us would’ve blamed the Official for giving up and walking away, disappointed in the same way the rich young ruler did. He was basically given an answer that ignored him as an individual, and insulted him as a part of a group.

The Official had faith, and he stuck with it; he had faith, he walked home, and his son was healed. But what does it mean, exactly, to “have faith?” 

The word “faith” is often relegated to a corner of our materialistic culture for terms that are empty and inconsequential, perhaps a “feel good” new-agey-looking corner.

I posted about this a little bit back in December: we don’t always live our lives as though we actually believe in things, or have faith at all. But what would it look like for us to live like we have faith?

We can say we have faith all we want, but it is kind of like having a watch you never wear; it may work, but essentially, it’s useless unless you wear it and look at it to tell time.

I wonder if part of the problem is that we see faith as something that is passive when, in fact, faith is action. God expects us to take steps of faith first: we choose to believe, our lives are changed, and we take risks and steps that show we actually have faith in God.

We have to act on this faith; a faith that is never acted upon is relatively easy; a faith that is put into action, that makes us take steps, take risks, is not easy. But I don’t think faith was ever meant to be easy, or even just make us feel good about ourselves.

But having faith, and stepping out in faith, and putting our faith into action is a good thing, because it means something will happen. If the Official decided not to take action, or not ask Jesus again to heal his son a second time, it is possible not all the good things he hoped would happen would have happened. His son might have been healed, but he and his household might have chalked it up to good luck, and they would not have known Jesus to be the Son of God.

Taking steps of faith is an opportunity. It may be risky, but it’s what we have to do if we want to have the best ending to our story, the one we couldn’t write for ourselves.

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