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Advent | December 9, 2016

Beautiful Actions of Faith

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.    —James 2:14-17

If we think of peace in the broader sense of shalom—that is, peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, well-being, flourishing, and tranquillity—then peace includes living out all the implications of our faith in Jesus Christ. With that in mind, here’s a paraphrase of James 2:14-17:

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister uses a wheelchair. If one of you says, “They are welcome at our church,” but your church provides no ramps, no pew cutouts, no accessible bathrooms, what good is your faith? Suppose a fellow church member has hearing loss but your congregation provides no way for her to hear what is happening in the worship services or other gatherings, how can she participate? Maybe a stroke survivor at your church can no longer speak. If the rest of the congregation writes him off instead of taking initiative to find new ways for him to contribute to the life of the body, are you really living out your faith? Does a member with mental illness know she is loved, even though her depression often keeps her from worship and other church events? Do others offer to read the church bulletin and newsletter to members who have vision loss? Does the boy with autism know he truly belongs with the rest of your congregation? Does your church offer respite for tired families who care for their kids with disabilities day in and day out? Does your church work to show your community that people with disabilities are truly welcomed and embraced? If not, what good is your faith? Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead, but faith that is accompanied by action is a beautiful offering of love toward God and other people.

Prayer
God, give us, fellow church members, and our church leaders the understanding and will to put our faith into action. In Jesus, Amen.

Rev. Mark Stephenson serves the CRC as director of Disability Concerns.

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