Archive for October, 2017

Faith, without works, is dead.

October 2, 2017

 HurricaneMaria

Hurricane survivors receive food and water being given out by volunteers and municipal police as they deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on September 28, 2017 in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

James 2:14-26New King James Version (NKJV)

I’m a huge proponent of prayer. Not as a last resort, but as a first offense. Growing up, whenever we were faced with a major obstacle, the first thing my mom would do is have us pray. Then we got to work. Now people seem to want to substitute prayer for work.

I’ve said before that scripture, God’s Word, has POWER. It can give you wisdom and insight when you need it. It will raise hopes, bring comfort, and give one the courage and strength to persevere in hard times. However, Christians render it powerless when we utter it as simple platitudes, using it to absolve oneself from taking action to help another or to allow evil to flourish unchallenged. By using it as a “Get Out of Jail Free” card – putting the focus and responsibility for action and change on the prayer, rather than ourselves – we rob God’s Word of its power, and bring no real comfort to those who need it.

This past month, we have seen three major hurricanes, and today a mass shooting in Las Vegas. Millions have lost their homes, their way of life. Entire cities have been flooded. The island of Puerto Rico been leveled. The US Virgin Islands and other islands are also devastated. Lives have been lost. American lives. Beneath this we have the undercurrent of social unrest: NFL protests and counter protests around the killings of unarmed and often innocent black Americans, and the attempt to deflect from and obscure this issue by using the military, the American flag and our National Anthem as coded euphemisms to tell black folks to stay in their place. We also have the perception that Puerto Rico and other places are not getting aid faster or to the degree of other storm ravaged areas, because they are populated by POC.

I understand that there are some who are not in a position to do much in a hands-on fashion. They can’t travel to devastated areas to personally help. They donate, if they can. They bring awareness, offer prayers, sympathy, positive thoughts. These are good things. I know things take time. Life isn’t a TV show where get a resolution to a problem in 60 minutes, minus commercials. However, from my elected officials, I expect MORE than prayers and positive thoughts. I expect solutions, action, accountability – and the ability to show their work.

We have men and women, on our payroll, who are in a position to fund aid, spur recovery efforts, and save lives. They can enact, abolish or change laws to this end. They can make sure that the people they are approving for appointments to cabinet and other positions are knowledgeable and will be capable of doing their jobs. They can ensure that Americans can exercise their second amendment rights, AND take steps to keep the public safe. If they have the will do it.

Instead we repeatedly get responses like this:

 

Empty platitudes.

 

If the President would rather play golf than staff government agencies, congress and their staffers can recommend people. It’s not like the President knows or cares about the details. He will sign off on whomever they put before him. I don’t want to hear how government doesn’t work, when there is no one in place to run it.

I was raised to believe that part of America’s greatness is based on her being a “Christian Nation”. That the reason we made so much progress and were the leaders in innovation was because we had wisdom from the mind of Christ and adhered to biblical principles. In recent years it seems to me that Christians, at least the vocal ones getting all the attention, are more in love with the idea of Christianity and it’s ideals, than actually being a participant in the life. Life. Not lifestyle.

So, when there are children who are hungry, sick people who cannot get medical care, hurricane victims homeless and starving, and victims of gun violence lying injured and dying, I expect more than prayers and well wishes from our leadership. Leaders, who have the power to make things better, but are refusing to exercise it. What actions are being taken on behalf of the people they were elected to serve? Prayers are needed and welcomed, but what “works” are there to support the prayers?

The bible teaches us that faith, without works, is dead. As a “Christian Nation”, our actions should attest to our commitment to the principles and ideals we hold dear. Even secular people recognize that actions speak louder than words. If America were a person, and someone accused her of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to prove it?

 

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