14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith… 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead. James 2:14-18, 26
I just realized today that I haven’t posted a single thing to my blog since Easter. For some of you that doesn’t mean anything and for others, you’re screaming, “I know!” Though, in most weeks, I write sermons, litanies, commentaries, and (sometimes) book reviews, my blog remains a necessary outpost of ongoing thought and conversation. It is also the most frequent conversational intersection I have with people who are not active members of Lutheran Church of Hope. Among some of my friends, we have a phrase, “Writers write.”
You can’t call yourself something, if you’re not doing the thing that proves the title. There are a few exceptions to that rule, but on the whole, we have to backup our words with actions. Having faith in God, trusting that we are people on the Way of Christ, and giving thanks in and for the Holy Spirit is good and important. However, mere assertion of faith through words is not enough to demonstrate what we have received through God’s own grace.
Since we are decidedly not earning our salvation, we sometimes forget how much our actions matter and are essential to the life of faith. We are not convincing God to act or completing what Jesus has begun. Faithful actions- love for neighbors, care for creation, active pursuit of justice and peace- are part of a faithful life. Salvation is a one-time thing and not of our own doing. Sanctification, on the other hand, is an on-going work of the Holy Spirit.
That work, sanctification, is about shaping us. The Spirit puts opportunities in our way, people in our lives, situations in our sight, and concerns on our hearts, so that we might respond and learn what it means to trust Christ’s desires for the world and God’s plans for the kin-dom. None of the efforts to which we are drawn happen magically or through our mere words among ourselves. They require prayer, sweat, tears, and effort. We must dare to get it wrong, but dare more greatly to trust in the forgiveness that exists for us- so that we might try, try again.
Christians Christ. I do realize that “Christ” is not a verb. However, if “writers write”, Christians…? What is the verb that closes that sentence? It’s in your hands.