Putting Faith to Work
According to James, faith isn't really faith until we put it into action. It's not enough just to believe in Jesus in your head; you must allow that belief to transform your life and actions. Good works are the natural outgrowth of a true faith in Jesus. We only really believe the parts of the Bible that we choose to live out.
Read: James 1:22-24; 2:14-26
How has your understanding of Jesus affected the way you live? What would change if you acted on all that you claim to believe?
The question that seemed to settle in my mind was "Has my understanding of Jesus changed the way I live, and if, in fact, it has, how?
Do I really know what it means to live the life of Christ...what was Christ's life like?
...he knew God, the things of God, and the ways of God from his boyhood, and he taught them to others, (Luke 2). It doesn't matter what age you are, young, old or in between, we should all know God and be teaching others about Him.
...he was a son that all mothers want: thoughtful, kind, respectful, loving and obedient, one that would never give his mother any kind of trouble (except for pain in knowing that the world was not good enough for him and would do nothing but hurt him). If we are a mother or father, we should be teaching our children to act this way, and we should be showing this kind of love to our parents (nursing homes would disappear);
...that his family and friends doubted his claim of being God's son (Luke 4:24). No matter how much we are doubted, teased, ridiculed or threatened, we should allow no family member or friend to keep us from telling others about God and His plan for their lives.
...that Jesus was a straight shooter; a man who told the truth no matter what the consequences. Likewise, we are to be people of integrity; telling the truth no matter what the consequences are.
...he did not resort to violence to accomplish his mission, no matter how far he was pushed. My husband had me take a shooting class to get my concealed carry permit. Would I ever use it? I can't imagine it. I would much rather think I am like the young lady in this video.
...he did without. He didn't have a home, a method of transportation, an extra coat, a pantry full of food, or a closet full of clothes. He had just enough to do what needed to be done that day, and he relied on the goodness of God to suppy it.
...he didn't even have a place to call his own. Jesus said that birds have nests and foxes have dens, but the Son of Man has no place to rest his head. Life was hard in those days and he didn't even have a pillow top mattress to rest his weary bones on after a long day's work.
...he cared deeply for others. He had friends (lots of them, I believe); admirers, groupies; people who followed him everywhere he went; but, sadly, he didn't really trust anyone because he "knew" the hearts of men.
...he was willing to suffer for others, up to and including death. I have read many accounts of Jesus' torture before his death, and it certainly was not something that a mere man or woman would go through for a world of people who didn't deserve it and the greatest majority of whom would not want it, believe it or accept it.
There it is, the afflicted life: the life where others are more important, where life is not politically correct, life gives instead of takes, one does not have everything one wants, and you live by integrity, morals and laws established by God, no matter what the cost.
Do you have it in you to live that life. Just like old age, it is not for the faint hearted.
We had an altar call at our church last weekend, which is not a usual thing. Our pastor says that it's not a one-time, feel good, stand up and say a short prayer kind of commitment, but that it's a call to living the afflicted life of Christ. He passed out the attached as standard of living the afflicted life of Christ. Are you willing to sign up?
As of today, I am part of the Church of the Out of Control.
I've given up control to God. I trust and obey the Spirit.
I've jumped off the fence, stepped over the line.
I've pulled out all the stops, holding nothing back.
There's no turning back, looking around, slowing down,
backing away, letting up or shutting up.
It's life against the odds, outside the box, over the wall;
the game of life played without goal lines other than
"Thy will be done..."
I am not here to please the dominant culture.
I live to please my Lord and Savior.
I've stopped trying to make life work, and
started trying to make life sing.
I no longer live by and for anything, but everything God breathed,
Christ centered and Spirit driven;
I won't back down, slow down, shut down, let down
until I am preached out, teached out, healed out or hauled out
of God's mission in the world entrusted to members of the
Church of the Out of Control....to unbind the confined,
the overlooked or the under represented.
...so that one day, He will pick me out
in the line up of the ages as one of His own.
And then, it will be worth it all to hear these words:
"Well done, thou good and faithful, out-of-control Disciple."