Sunday, August 15, 2010

Seeing is Believing

But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

-- James 2:18

Ever had a home or office computer infected by a virus, worm or malware? If so, you know that helpless feeling when your machine crashes, freezes or slows to a maddening crawl. And soon enough, that once top-of-the-line PC becomes nothing more than an expensive plastic paperweight.

But don’t give up hope quite yet. There’s powerful software from reputable companies that not only cleans out such infections, it helps prevent future problems by fixing unrelated computer performance issues like defragmentation and registry errors. What was once a dead or crippled computer can actually become better than new. The before-and-after is often remarkable. And that precious $79.99 spent on the anti-virus software looks like a bargain in retrospect.

Every Christ-follower for the last 2,000 years can recognize this modern day cyber-illustration. Like a crippled machine made whole again, Christ-followers become born again once they accept Jesus Christ through faith as their Lord and Savior. We start over at that point with a clean slate with God – now ready to do good works to advance His kingdom. Think about it: everything we’ve done wrong throughout our lives – none of it will be held against us after we leave this life on earth! All the pitiful ways we’ve treated others, the lies we’ve told and the potential we’ve wasted over the years; it’s all forgiven because Jesus paid the price and died for us on the cross.

So we’re now free and have an incredible future with God because of our faith in Christ. But this is much more than a simple intellectual exercise. Instead, authentic, faith-filled Christ-followers must demonstrate tangible changes in who they are, what they think… and especially what they do.

James, the half-brother of Jesus, provides this spot-on illustration:

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Of course, we’re not saved from the punishment we deserve because of any good deeds (“works”) we might do. If that were the case, it would be possible to earn our way to God’s acceptance. The fact is that our feeble efforts and good intentions are never enough; there’s nothing we can do except follow God’s plan of salvation and accept His free gift of freedom through Jesus Christ.

Rather than being saved BY our own good works, our faith leads us to being saved FOR doing good works. Christ-followers are therefore to be Jesus’ mouth, eyes, hands and feet in our community and around the world – and all to demonstrate God’s power to change lives and put His love in action.

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