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Living Out Our Faith

September 1, 2018

Last month we took a hike with our youngest son from Bear Lake to Bierstadt Lake and back. It was much easier than the first time we went to Bierstadt from the Bear Lake Overflow Parking Lot three years ago! It was so much fun to see this Mama Moose (baby was nowhere to be found) and two ducks sharing the lake and living together in harmony.

Sharing the lake and living together in harmony. Sadly, that is a concept that is not seen or celebrated often these days. It seems that division, hatred, fear, and an “us versus them” attitude is what takes center stage too often.

The readings for this Sunday have been challenging me all week. The Letter of James challenged the Reformers with the emphasis on works. Yet this particular passage does actually tie our actions into our faith in a way that doesn’t smack of Works Righteousness. In James 1:22 we read the following — But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. This particular verse struck me as I thought about my own spiritual journey. How often have I heard the Word but decided not to follow through with what Jesus, the Living Word, has called me to do and to be. Just one example is how I ignored God’s call to ministry only to hear the call again nearly a decade later. Of course there are also plenty of times that I have heard the word — Forgive… Love… Yes, even love your enemies… and failed miserably in being a doer of that word.

As we move into the reading from Mark’s Gospel, it becomes apparent why James was so adamant about being doers and not just hearers of the word. The Pharisees, in Jesus’ eyes were so focused on the ritual cleanliness standards that they missed the point when it comes to truly living a life of faith. While they were busy keeping all of the rules and so-called regulations, they completely missed the intent of the Law. Remember that song from your childhood? They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love

We will be commissioning two couples from our church tomorrow as they prepare to head to Malawi to work with the Embangweni School for the Deaf and the Marion Medical Mission’s Shallow Well Program. For our volunteer Mission Co-Workers, it is the work that they do and the love that they show to their Malawian neighbors that will reveal the love of God in Christ. They will know that they are Christians by their love… by their actions… by their service… by their coming along side of their neighbors and working with them. That, dear reader is what true mission work is.

That is part of the reason why the Presbyterian Church (USA) changed the title of our workers from Missionary to Mission Co-Worker. In the old days, Missionaries came in and told the indigenous population that the Anglo-European way was the only way to do things. Now we come along side of the indigenous population and work with them.

So how do we live out our faith, dear reader? In part it is by loving God and loving neighbor… in part it is by doing justice, loving kindness/mercy, and walking humbly with God… in part it is by, in the words of James 1:27, Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress…

Yes, as the old song says, they will know we are Christians by our love…

  1. Powerful. Thank you for sharing Pastor Micheal. Hope you have a blessed Sunda in Jesus.

    We’re starting our day here in Rwanda.

    We will keep the two couples in our prayers!

  2. Virginia Carroll permalink

    Will strive to improve on the doing part.

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