Living Our Faith
While the controversy over vaccines continues to rage on, it probably pales in comparison to the differences of opinion the Apostles might have had about the key to eternal salvation: faith versus good works.
In Romans, Paul tells us, “For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.”
But James (James 2:14-26) takes a different view of salvation, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?”
So where does that leave us today? How should we proceed to our common goal of salvation?
The dilemma reminds one of Pascal's Wager, a philosophical argument presented by the seventeenth-century French philosopher and theologian Blaise Pascal, who may have been the first to apply “game theory” to whether God exists or not. Here are the options and outcomes he presented:
If God REALLY exists, and we believe (that God exists), we have an infinite gain (heaven). If God REALLY exists, and we don't believe that, then we have the potential of an infinite loss (hell, or at least eternal separation from God). If God really does NOT EXIST, and we believe that God exists, we essentially lose nothing. If God really does NOT EXIST, and we believe that God doesn't exist, we essentially gain nothing.
With no disrespect to Paul, if we are to follow Pascal’s logic, maybe the best course of action for Christians is to not only have faith; but to have faith with works.
In the Bible there are many examples of faith in action, from feeding the hungry, to assisting those in need, or spending time with widows and orphans. Those same opportunities are available today, for us to live our faith.
So to put our faith in action, maybe it is time for more of us to volunteer with organizations and help children who are looking for a mentor. Who better to do this than Christians, who can show these children the positive impact God can have on their lives? Or maybe volunteer, on a consistent basis, at a shelter or soup kitchen. And while you are at it, take a friend with you so they can see the power of serving others and how you gain more by giving of yourself.
In today’s world of endless communication, maybe we need to share our stories how Christ has made a difference in our lives. Who knows, maybe our words will resonate with someone who isn’t sure if they want to take the time and effort to become a Christian. Let’s not let the naysayers be the ones who dominate social media, but rather, let it be filled with stories about the power of love for one another.
But the inverse of the passage from James is equally true, and we cannot be saved by our good deeds alone. We need to remember to strengthen our faith through daily prayer and meditation. Talk to God and feel his presence with us every minute of our day and thank God for his countless blessings. Maybe it can be as simple as to carve out a few more minutes of each day to read more than the readings and reflection for the day. Take the time to read the Bible and let its message resonate in all that you think, do and say.
But, in the end, if we truly do have faith, it only stands to reason that good works will naturally flow from it. Maybe the true barometer of our faith is not in time spent in a church pew but rather time spent in service to others. Living our Faith.