• Gary White

Faith Without Works?

The title of our blog, "Faith and Works," is taken from a passage in the Epistle of James where Christians are challenged to exercise their faith through good works carried out in the social sphere. "What good is it," the apostle asks, "if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,' and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead." (James 2:14-17)

Far be it from me to question something set down in an epistle by an apostle, but in my thinking, a claim of Christian faith that doesn't result in good works is not "dead." It was never really alive. Faith without works is impossible.

When we look back at the movements that ended slavery in the United States, apartheid in South Africa, and the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe, we celebrate the role that Christians played in those important social advances. But at the time such revolutionary upheavals are taking place, the issues at hand can seem more complex, less clear cut than they are in hindsight. In real time, people of faith can be conflicted. There were churches that actually supported American slavery and South African apartheid, Christians who participated in the Rwandan genocide, and church leaders who were deeply complicit with Nazism.

Among the challenges to American society today is the issue of asylum seekers. The Christians of our church community have a blessed opportunity to live out our values by serving "the least of these." And as revolutionary challenges go, this one's a no-brainer. If the people of our church, our friends and neighbors down the block and down the hill and wherever our wonderful digital tools can reach, will dig in for that little bit of extra love, extra prayer, extra volunteer time, and maybe a dollar or two to help care for our seekers, The Guest House can do a work that will bring a great big smile to the face of old Brother James.

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