Thursday, June 26, 2014

James 2:26 -- On Enlivening our Faith

"For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."
James 2:26

This is an excellent reminder, but one that I don't think that we often want to think about.  We talk a lot about belief and internal commitment, but it is harder to talk about action... doing something about that belief, and committing our whole selves, not just our minds.  And the crazy part is that we often think that the internal part is enough.  *We* know how we feel, and we're used to having that be what matters.  But faith without works is just feeble belief, with no action or follow through.  No acting on the belief makes the belief inherently weaker... like we don't trust it enough to do something about it.  It's like believing that we can write a book or start a business or go to college, and then never writing, or applying, or starting.  It doesn't mean that the belief is bad or that we can't do those things... but as the verse says, our faith in those things is dead... worthless... unless we *act* on them.
It is totally scary sometimes to act.  It's a huge risk.  We're pushing our belief out there on the high diving board and looking down and wondering if we are going to die, or even worse, be out of control of our own consequences.  What if we get rejected, or what if we fail?  Is it worth even trying?  And sometimes, of course, those doubts are valid.  We can't succeed at everything, although not trying always means failure, and probably isn't the answer.  But, in a gospel context we can have more confidence.  Like Nephi with the Brass Plates, God provides a way for us to accomplish *anything* that he commands us. 
When we get stuck in the gospel we are sometimes afraid of failing, and sometimes even worried on some level that we'll build on God's foundation and then find out that it is falling out from beneath us, because we have doubts or concerns.  We want to believe, but the certainty isn't there.  It reminds me of a Science Fiction story called "Of Missing Persons."  In the story the main character goes to a travel agency and hears about a one-way trip to a different planet.  Sounds too good to be true, but it looks *so* good, and he wants it badly, is so tired of the rat race, and so he pays the money.  He gets on a bus, and all the other people who want to go all arrive and sit waiting in an old barn, and he panics.  He looks around at the old barn and the ratty surroundings and he's like... why did we believe this?  Someone has cheated us, and we're all going to sit here and finally realize that we've lost everything, that there is no paradise, and he jumps up and goes to the door, leaving everyone else sitting there.  He stands at the door, ready to convince everyone else to leave as well, when suddenly everything gets bright, and all the people sitting there are teleported away.  He only gets a glimpse, a scent, and then the promised paradise is gone... he never gets the chance to go again.  ... He believed for a while.  He tried to maintain trust, but it wasn't deep enough and he couldn't be patient enough to see it through.  His instinct to distrust, and to make sure that no one was scamming him were natural... learned through living in our society, where we have to be careful of those things sometimes.  But in his case, and *always* in God's case, that risk of trust would have paid off.  That's what faith is, really... belief + trust = willingness to act.  Stronger than belief, it is a confidence that we can trust God, and that what we do and work for at his request, he will always support us in.  Life sometimes feels like sitting in that ratty barn, wondering if we've completely made fools of ourselves.  And sometimes we have.  But *never* with God.  He backs us up.  He comes through on his promises.
Today, let's wake up our dead faith. :)  Let's bring it back to life again.  Let's go out on the limb.  Let's risk, let's act... because it isn't some mere mortal supporting us here.  This is God... more powerful than any superhero. :)  If we know that it is God's will, then let's *do* it.  God will never let us down.  Maybe we'll have to try more than once.  Maybe we'll have to try things in several different ways, but God will show us how, as we keep trying, and as we maintain the faith necessary to follow through.

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