So much of the time I stare off and a familiar desire creeps back into my heart – to try to think of and especially write something beautiful. Often, even at my many attempts I’m unsatisfied. Even if I am, it’s only for a short bit. I always want something grander, more elegant, more poised, with more depth and meaning. I simply can’t find it in words. My own heart language fails me. I’m sure even if/when I learn other languages, those will fail me too even if they do help. I can try to write interestingly or compellingly or beautifully about God, His creation, fallenness of man, or what have you and try to put some sort of uplifting and poetic spin on things to give it meaning, but it comes up short. Sometimes I think of it as simply vanity. And in many ways, if that’s all that my words try to do then I’m right. Here’s why.
Life is meant to be lived in action, not through words alone. Scripture is just a book to sit on a shelf if one doesn’t live by the words contained. So are our lives. If we write, or imagine things, take pictures of things, or what have you all of that is ultimately vanity if you can’t live your life in meaning through your actions. One can nitpick and separate the two things, but that is what exactly is not meant to happen. It’s both/and, there is not to be an ‘or’ anywhere in the vicinity. We can say many words from our mouths, but by our actions deny Him. In the same way, we can do many actions but deny Him by our lack of faith. Faith and works (or simply living our day to day lives in action as I like to think) are like a rope. Each chord is intricately woven into the other, and without one the rope fails and you fall to the ground.
That same book can sit on your nightstand all you want too and not mean a thing, no matter how many hours you spend in it if you lack the faith to believe the words you’re reading. You can live by all the moral codes you see, all the commandments you see, tell all the proverbs, but still just be clanging symbols in people’s ears if you don’t live them out in faith. You can imagine their reaction at the obnoxius sound so close to their eardrums. If you don’t live them out by… faith… and what’s missing? Love.
Love is generally seen as a feeling. This warm gushy emotion that makes our spirits soar when we think of someone that is described by this word. When you think about that person, do you generally just think about them? Is that all that happens in your mind, and then you go about your day to day business? Might there be something more to your thoughts about the one you love than that? When you think about the one you adore, suddenly you desire to do something for that person, to help them out in some way or express your affection in some form. You don’t simply walk away after having such grand thoughts of affection, or do you?
Such is the way I’m sure we’ve all done when it has come to our relationship with God. Often, a dichotomy develops and we are separated into two groups who do one or the other. Even whole denominations of our faith have come out of this. Many people have been burned by the hypocrisy that results when we separate the chords from the rope of faith and works. We see either legalism with people touting their beliefs and living in sin or people with their heads too stuck in the clouds to help their neighbor who’s father just died even they could have written magnificent books on their faith.
Yet, who is to call that faith anyways? Shouldn’t such faith in a Diety of action result in His followers acting as well? Or is this Diety in which they claim to have so much faith an inanimate figure of the Universe that figured He was done with creation after He spoke it into being? Their actions sure suggest that this is the truth however much they want to deny it.
On the other side of things, those wrought in striving to do good each day happen upon another problem – failure. When they fail, a building collapses. Maybe a whole city. Their lives lived out in the spotlight shown out of the illumination of their good deeds soon crumble once the reality of their lives lived behind closed doors is revealed to the world. Maybe it’s not even that grand, take myself for example. I have always tended to fall into this category moreso than the other of cutting strands if I can say categorize myself considering what I’ve written earlier. I’m so caught up in not making mistakes that I think (at the worst times) that I might loose my salvation if I keep bumbling along. At best, I desire to ask forgiveness and make a concerted effort to not commit the same mistakes again that I did in the past.
Can the reader sense where the focus is here? It’s not where this chorded rope leads to, the Christ. Instead of leading to the Messiah who provides the strenth to bear this rope, it brings our eyes down to the mess of sin and hopelessness that we are in. That we ARE saved from. Note the present tense there. Our sin was forgiven, past present and future all in one go for all of humanity and we have the gall to keep asking for it. It has been given. We must take hold of it and live by the inherent grace that God has given us in response to it, despite our failures. We take hold of it by faith, and live it out because of the continuing grace and mercy that Christ has given us as part of that gift. Sever Christ, and you sever the rope and our lives are yet still lived in vanity. It takes the combination of those things for us to begin to live out lives of eternal meaning that will ultimately glorify God. We have Christ as our cornerstone, and live that our proving our faith by our works.
Go out and love someone today, even when you think you can’t or don’t know how. Through time, you will learn. Inaction does nothing, but with action you will learn what it means to live out your life by faith. It is a process, and none of us get it right away and none of us understand it in its entirety until we are with Christ. Take it as a process, and learn from it. Don’t despair through your failure, but rather take hold of the grace of Christ and press through it by His strenth. Keep going, no matter how dark it gets, because through faith the Father of Lights will be your guide.
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.
–Hebrews 11:6 ESV
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
–James 2:14-26 ESV
Starfield – I will Go