As you quiet yourself for this brief time, be willing to be open to God in whatever way that may take place.
James 2:17-26 (NRSV)
If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 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? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
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. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.
Joshua 2:15-24 (NRSV)
Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the outer side of the city wall and she resided within the wall itself. She said to them, “Go toward the hill country, so that the pursuers may not come upon you. Hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers have returned; then afterward you may go your way.” The men said to her, “We will be released from this oath that you have made us swear to you if we invade the land and you do not tie this crimson cord in the window through which you let us down, and you do not gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your family. If any of you go out of the doors of your house into the street, they shall be responsible for their own death, and we shall be innocent; but if a hand is laid upon any who are with you in the house, we shall bear the responsibility for their death. But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be released from this oath that you made us swear to you.” She said, “According to your words, so be it.” She sent them away and they departed. Then she tied the crimson cord in the window.
They departed and went into the hill country and stayed there three days, until the pursuers returned. The pursuers had searched all along the way and found nothing. Then the two men came down again from the hill country. They crossed over, came to Joshua son of Nun, and told him all that had happened to them. They said to Joshua, “Truly the LORD has given all the land into our hands; moreover all the inhabitants of the land melt in fear before us.”
“If you don’t shoot, you’ll miss 100% of the time.” a player chides at the sideline in a recent basketball movie. In like manner James exhorts readers, “without action your faith is dead.” What is the point of playing on a team if you’re not going to take a chance?
Many of our churches have trouble taking a risk, trying new things. Across the denomination we joke about how we love to sit in the back pews. I wonder what James would say about that. What would it mean today for our churches to put their faith into action?
Do you suppose Rahab felt uncomfortable offering cover to enemy spies? Probably terrified, she rose to the occasion, becoming known as a heroine in the Hebrew faith and an ancestor of Jesus. Brave, she had learned to survive in an unjust world. And she taught us all something about faith. An unlikely example, she was willing to take a chance.
What will it take to put our faith into action? The future of the Christian faith depends on our bravery to take risks for God. If we don’t try we have a 100% chance of failing.
Gracious God, there is so much to do in this work and not enough time to do it. However, we know that the most important thing we need to be doing is putting our faith into action. Help us to see the needs and work toward filling them. Amen.
Go with God.