“But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works” – James 2:18-22 (ESV)
Here is the general template for my first couple years here at St. Ansgar’s:
Step 1: Bring the church together. To get us to communicate and trust each other. COVID took us away from each other and caused a lot of hurt. We needed time to come together and learn to trust and love each other. This is why we have gone to one service and have our casual potluck after church.
Step 2: Grow deeper together. Often church relationships can be focused on worldly things. I have tried to set the standard for digging into Scripture, equipping others to dig into Scripture, and changing the ideals in discipleship to God’s standards not ours. This is why we have brought back confirmation and Sunday School. This is also why last summer’s coffee and conversation focused on spiritual discussion.
Step 3: Outreach. This is the hardest one to get going because it relies so much on sacrifice. Outreach is sacrifice. It gives time, effort, and resources while removing comfort and selfishness. I’m praying that God will fill individuals within the congregation with compassion and sacrifice.
If you haven’t noticed, we are focusing on activities and programs and outreach more than normal this summer. We are currently going though the book of James which promotes faith in action during our Sunday services. In our coffee and conversation, we are doing a book study on the Art of Neighboring, which is centered on intentional efforts to get to know your neighbors and grow relationships with them. We are also hoping to bring in one program a month to talk about what they are doing in our community.
I remember hearing the words from James 2:19, “Even the demons believe and shudder!” I had to ask myself as a young adult, “Is my faith any different than the demons?” What separates our faith from a demon’s? Demons believe in the power of Jesus and the divinity of Jesus. What separates us then? It’s action. Demons serve to tear down God’s kingdom. We seek to be a part of building it.
James 2:22 says, Abraham’s faith was completed by works. Faith must be put into action because every action starts with a belief. For example: Abraham believed that the Lord was God and Creator of the universe. Abraham believed the Lord was asking him to sacrifice his only son, so Abraham stayed at home… NO! Abraham went up the mountain with his son, with the necessary items for sacrifice. Abraham’s faith necessitated his obedience because he believed in His Lord.
This summer is a perfect chance to evaluate your actions. Is your faith any different than the faith of a demon’s? Do you have something on your heart for this congregation/community? Do you feel God calling you to do something? Are you tired of church being a Sunday activity and not a daily lifestyle? Let’s talk!