Posts Tagged ‘faith in action’

Luke 14:1-6 — In this passage, we see the difference between knowing Scripture and living Scripture.

The illustration that comes to mind when reading this passage is the Big Bang Theory. It is one of my favorite shows of all time. It is wickedly funny. It is the first time in TV history where intelligent nerds are center stage and not the butt of a joke. But there is one scene in one of the episodes where there is something wrong with Penny’s car and each of the four main guy characters each can explain the details of a combustion engine and how and why it works. Then someone says (I think in was Penny), “…but can you fix it?” Each one is silent then. For all their chatter, not one could help Penny get her car fixed. That is what is on display here too. The Pharisees knew Scripture like you would not believe. The had created reams and reams of interpretation of the Law. They had built a legal body of work that built fences around the law so that they would not break it.

Then, Jesus challenges them like Penny challenged Howard, Raj, Leonard and Sheldon. Jesus knew their hearts. He knew that they were trying to trick Him into saying or doing something that would give them ammunition to have Him arrested. He knew they were experts in Scripture but He challenged them on the living of it. It is very similar to the main idea of the movie, Do You Believe?, that my wife and I went to see last night during its second night in the theaters since its release. The movie challenges us to live our faith out rather than just saying that we have it. We are to live out being a Christ follower rather than simply being a sideline Christian. So you believe? What are you going to do with it? Are we going to love others as Christ loved us? Are we going to allow the gospel to really change our lives and live lives of principle? Are we going to do the right thing? Are we going give ourselves away to others? Are we going to help others when they need helping? Are we going to speak of Jesus to others when it will cost us something? Are we going to live out our knowledge of the spirit of Scripture?

Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath despite the fact that the Pharisees had created layers of religious law against doing work on the Sabbath. Jesus, being the one who gave us the Law, knew that the intent of the Sabbath was to focus on glorifying God for all that He has done for us. It was to focus on praising Him. It was to take time out of our busy lives to focus specifically on worshiping our Creator, our Protector, our Provider, our Ever Present Help. It was not meant to make life so restrictive that we could not even spit on the ground on the Sabbath. That’s how weird the Pharisees had made the Sabbath. They had turned something that was intended to be joyful and turned it into fear. Jesus reclaims the purpose of the Sabbath. Healing those who need to know of the glory of God. What better way to give glory to God than to demonstrate the power of God. Jesus said that the Pharisees would do no less for their son or even an animal on the Sabbath. He was quietly calling them hypocrites and condemning them for making the Sabbath about them calling the shots rather than it being about glorifying God. He condemned them for knowing Scripture to the nth degree but not living it out in ways that are real. Jesus quietly by his actions shut them up. You hear no chatter. Just as Penny shuts up the Incredible Nerds, Jesus calls the Pharisees out and they are silent.

Do you know Scripture but do not live it out? This is the question that plagues me daily. I know Scripture pretty well. I write about it daily here. I love studying Scripture. I love helping people understand what Scripture means. Do I live it out though? Am I loving like Jesus loved? Am I living like Jesus lived? Am I leaving a legacy of disciples who make disciples who make disciples behind? Am I sharing my faith with others? Am I making Jesus known in places where He is not known? Am I good at talking the talk but not good at walking the walk? What am I doing with my faith? The opening credit to last nights movie was James 1:27 which basically tells us that faith without expression is worthless. We should be compelled to act in a world that needs to know Jesus Christ. Knowledge without practical application is worthless. That is the point of the illustration from the Big Bang Theory. James 1:27 tells us not to just walk by a person who is in need and tell them that we will pray for them. It calls us to actually help that person. Am I living out my faith? Or am I just an academic Christian? Do I put wheels on my faith? Will I sit on the sidelines and wish or will I actually do something? Jesus says by His actions here that you can have all the Scripture knowledge in the world but if you fail to demonstrate the love of God that we all say we have then it is meaningless to a hurting world.

Lord, help us to be traction to our faith tires. Lord, help us to be more than academic Christians. Lord, help us to not to condemn the world around us but to change it by our getting our hands dirty in the lives of the people that need to hear the gospel. Help us make the gospel real to those who see us as a bunch of ivory tower commentators on the world’s problems. Help us to meet needs in the world that really matter and in so doing demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ in action. Help us to heal those who need healing. Help us to make Christ known through our expressed love for our fellow man not just conceptual love. Amen.

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Luke 9:1-6 — Today, we take our third and final look at this passage, Luke 9:1-6. Today, I am reminded of the many dreams I have often had but never executed. Like, one of the dreams I have had is to open a theatre with stadium seating but instead of theatre chairs have fine dining tables where you have a meal and watch a first run movie. A complete date night all in one. That’s a dream I’ve had for years but never executed. I dream of being a guitarist but never take lessons. Dreams without execution. Dreams without execution are just that, dreams. I’ve dreamed of being a missionary in a foreign land but have lacked execution. I have dreamed of just being a Christ follower who doesn’t miss his divine opportunities of speaking of the gospel but rarely execute it.

Dreams without execution are like being a Christ follower who preaches the gospel but does not heal. That is the beauty of the ministry of Jesus Christ on earth. He both preached of the Kingdom of God and He healed in the name of it. Jesus not only preached the gospel but He met real human needs. He forgave sins and he made the crippled man walk. He forgave sins and made the blind man see. Jesus healed the mother in law of one of his disciples. Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead. Jesus raised the widow’s son. Jesus healed the invalid man. Jesus healed the mute man. Jesus met real physical needs throughout his ministry. His miracles were the evidence of his divine nature. His miracles were evidence of God’s love. His miracles were the beginnings of changed lives. His miracles often aided Him in spreading His message of the Kingdom of God. His message was more than just preaching. His message was more than just theoretical. His message was more than just logical. His message was more than just theological. His message was one of hope and healing and changed lives. His miracles were to prove to that He was God in the flesh. His miracles showed His compassion for the state of man in this fallen world. His miracles meant that Jesus was out in the world dealing with the real issues of man. What do his miracles mean for us as His followers?

Jesus’ brother, James, said it best. We must be doers of the Word not just readers of it. James said, “Put the Word into action. If you think hearing is what matters most, you are going to find you have been deceived.” (from THE VOICE translation). James 2:15-16 tells us that “It would be like seeing a brother or sister without any clothes out in the cold and begging for food, and saying, “Shalom, friend, you should get inside where it’s warm and eat something,” but doing nothing about his needs—leaving him cold and alone on the street. What good would your words alone do? tells us that.” Preaching the gospel without meeting needs is contrary to Jesus’ ministry. He met needs. He had compassion for everyone and everyone’s situation. Love others is the mark of a man who loves Jesus. If we sit and church and dream of helping others but never do it, you are like me and my dream of a stadium seating dinner theater. Dreams without execution are useless. Don’t get me wrong, before some of you run off into a works salvation argument. Works don’t save us. We are saved by grace but works are the fruit of our salvation. If we love in theory. If we give money toward loving others but don’t practice it ourselves. If we participate in a thanksgiving meal giveaway but do not practice the same charity in our daily lives, we are dreaming of a dinner theater without ever trying to build it. How do we make lasting impacts in peoples lives? We live the gospel not just read it. We emulate Jesus Christ not just say what a nice guy He was.

Lasting impacts are what we are after as Christ followers. Leading people to Christ make a lasting impact. How do we get the opportunity to tell them about Jesus Christ? We meet a need. Do you know a single mom who has no time for your preaching. If you only preach to her, she will not listen. You meet a need. You give her a break from her kids. You get to know her. You demonstrate you love and not just preach about it. There is an old saying in theological circles that goes, “If you don’t feed a hungry man, he is not going to listen to the gospel.” Jesus met both spiritual and physical needs. He knew they went hand in hand. If you preach to a poor kid from the projects but don’t try to be a mentor to him and really be a part of his life, he is not going to listen to your preachy words. If you don’t become involved in another person’s mess, how are going to expect them to listen to your preaching. Jesus did not sit in the synagogue and remote control his miracles. He was out in the street. He got to know the people that He was helping face to face. Sure, we are to support our churches financially because there are ways that only the church can help in corporate church wide ways but that does not absolve us from being in the world in which we live. It does not absolve us from helping the needy (both spiritually and physically) in our spheres of influence. Church is to corporately equip us all to be saints in the real world. Corporate church events like the thanksgiving meal giveaway that we do at my church are not an end, it is supposed to be a beginning. It is to open our eyes and to model for us what our daily lives as Christians should be like outside the six double glass doors of our church. Lasting impacts. Lasting impacts.

Part of the problem that the world has with us as Christ followers today is that they see us as ivory tower Christians. They see us celebrate on Sundays. They see us do special events for the community. They see us as self-serving. They see us as doing these things to temporarily rid ourselves of Christian guilt. They do not see us as helping them. They do see us as theory and no action. They do not see as being people that they can call on when they are down and out. They don’t see us in their neighborhood. And for the most part they are right. I call myself out. I call you out. What are you doing? What am I doing to meet real needs where I live, work, and play. We can read our Bibles, we can write blogs, we can understand theology to the nth degree, we can go to church on Sunday and be moved by great worship, we can go to church on Sunday and hear great sermons, we can participate in small groups and grow oh so close to our fellow groupies, we can participate in church projects and church events, and yet never help that gal at work that is going through a divorce. Yet, never help that guy whose wife left him for another guy. Yet, never help that kid that doesn’t have a dad. Yet never help a complete stranger who needs a ride. Yet never help that family down the block that is about to lose their home. Yet never help a family that is about to have their power cut off. Yet never put ourselves outside our church circle of friends. Yet never really be moved to do something about an injustice that you see. Yet never be moved to do anything but churchy stuff. The outside world would be right about us. We are theory only. We are like my dream of the stadium seating dinner theater. That dream without execution is half the job. Works are the evidence of our faith. If we are to be like Jesus, we are to have both faith and action. If we are to make lasting impacts on the world, we must do more than dream. We must execute.

Amen. And Amen.