Community in Action February 11, 2021

For it is by grace

you have been saved,

through faith

—and this is not from yourselves,

it is the gift of God

— not by works,

so that no one can boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

    In my “Western” thinking I used to struggle with this verse versus James 2:20, “faith without works is dead.” How could you have these two competing verses in the same Bible? How can we reconcile these two verses which seem so opposite?

    As I have walked this road I have come to realize these verses are not in competition but are cooperative, correctives if you will, for our journey. When we start to puff up about all the good things we do, all the good works, good thoughts, and good intentions, we need to remember our salvation is not dependent on the number of good things we check off on our list.

    When we sit back and acknowledge that it is God’s grace which has saved us and there is nothing we need to do to earn God’s favor, the verse from James reminds us that a relationship with God includes listening and true listening requires action.

    Remember the Hebrew word shema, which means to listen also includes the commitment to action. There is not a Hebrew word for obey, so if we are truly listening to God we give evidence by obeying God.

    The evidence of our listening and faith in God is shown in how we speak and act. We can not have one without the other. So James reminds us that it is our actions which illustrate our faith, that is we are listening and, therefore, obeying God.

    These two “cooperating” verses do have one thing in common. They remind us that God is the initiator. It is God who offers us grace and it is God who speaks to our listening ears.

    It is God who not only created us, but God who directs us and God who will gift us with salvation which we can show the world through out actions.

    We do not have to worry if we are doing enough for God, we need to just be concerned if we are living out the faith which witnesses to the grace we have received.             This requires us to be ready to hear God, to be ready to follow the prompting of the Spirit. It is the readiness to respond which will signify our maturity in faith, not the accumulation of actions or good works which tells us we are growing in our walk with Jesus. No, if we are constantly attuned to the Spirit then we can walk daily with God.

    Receive God’s grace as a gift, be thankful for those times we can show the world we walk not our own way, but the way which God has for us. 

    Seeking to walk the way of the Spirit with you,

    Pastor Randy

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