Welcome to the Waretown United Methodist Church Fall Session Discipleship Initiative! For the past few weeks we have be posting a once weekly reflection on Scripture, Mission, and the book Right Here Right Now: by Alan Hirsch & Lance Ford. This Blog/Facebook discussion is part Bible Study, part Book Discussion, and part Practical Worskshop. You may post responses to this post (either on the blog or Facebook), repost, start a new related post, or message with others regarding the posted discussion for the week. Before you begin, please observe the following practices:
1. PRAY before you start! When we are in connection with God daily… God works in and through our lives to bring insight, inspiration, and understanding.
2. ENGAGE others in the group and outside. What God reveals to us through insight, inspiration and understanding is not meant for us alone… but others as well. God wants to use all of us to bring love, grace, hope, and faith to others.
3. RESPECT everyone. Sometimes we don’t agree… that’s OK. Consider every person and post to be earnestly seeking the best that God has to offer.
4. PARTICIPATE. It’s easy to passively observe… it takes guts to get in on the action! God is not calling for armchair quarterbacks, or part-timers. The only way to experience anything from this is to be ‘ALL IN’.
James 2: 14-26
1What good is it, my brothers and sisters, 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. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.
Pastor Erik’s Reflections on Scripture and Chapter 3 of Right Here Right Now
I am a physical fitness enthusiast! I love running, biking, swimming, lifting weights and many other activities. At my best, I also like eating lots of fruits and vegetables, getting a good night’s sleep, and managing a healthy stress-level. The challenge I am always facing is NOT whether I really believe that a good diet, good sleep habits, exercise, and stress-management are good for health and physical fitness, rather, it is whether I am actually DOING it as opposed to just believing in it! Think about it, it is much easier (and a no-brainer) to believe in good health and fitness habits than it is to practice the habits day in and day out. In the end, the proof is in the results, right? If we commit to a year-long daily practice of exercise, good eating and sleeping habits, and stress management we WILL see a trend of increased health, vitality, and fitness both physically and mentally. If we commit to nothing more than the BELIEF that exercise, good eating and sleeping habits, and stress management increases health and vitality we will see nothing.
And, so it is with our faith life. We simply do not grow in our faith and relationship with God unless faith and relationship with God is a PRIORITY that we live and practice every day. It’s really that simple… not easy… but simple. Our Scripture from James reminds us that even though we don’t WORK for God’s grace and favor and relationship… the reality of God’s grace and favor and relationship in our lives (if we have made it the priority of our life) will be evident in our daily life and actions. Many of us try and balance all of our competing personal priorities (career, family, financial security, hobbies, lifestyle, comfort, entertainment, etc.) and faith winds up being just one small piece of many. This would be OK if faith was something we checked off a weekly ‘to-do’ list, but the Scriptures tell us it is the daily active life of faith that is the priority. It is the principle and practice we live and organize our life around… faith determines the ‘to-do’ list.
Our challenge in this is summed up well on p. 115 in Right Here Right Now (I’m paraphrasing a quote from theologian Johann Metz): Are we Christians really changing our hearts, or do we just believe in a change of heart while remaining essentially unchanged ourselves? Are we living as disciples, or do we just believe in discipleship and remain essentially undisciples ourselves? Do we show real love, or do we just believe in love and remain essentially unloving ourselves?
How we answer these questions will give us a straight assessment of our faith journey. How we live these answers today will give us a maturing and ever-deepening faith journey tomorrow.