Reflections on Faith In Action

1         Why does it feel good?  The time of gathering and celebration after the day of Faith-In-Action left everyone very pleased with a sense of real joy.  Why is this?  I believe it’s because when we forget about ourselves for a while and make an effort to serve others, this is not just the work of God, it is how God made us to live.  Our Creator made us in his image, and when we live in that image, it resonates to the very core of our being.  It feels right.  It feels good to join with others to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.  We should celebrate it and take pleasure in doing God’s work and living out God’s image in us.  But there can be dangers here.  One is that we serve mainly for the pleasure we get out of it.  Or we may feel smugly proud of ourselves saying. “Look what I did for God.”

2         Our Faith-In-Action is part of our salvation.  God not only desires to save us from hell in the afterlife, but God wants to save us in this life – from living a life of selfishness and smallness, from living with no purpose beyond ourselves, and a host of other traps in our human condition.  And part of the way God saves us from living selfishly is by serving others in humility.  This is a large part of the message of Jesus.  Read Isaiah and you will see it’s clear that God’s salvation involves rescuing the poor and oppressed, doing justice, and creating a society of righteousness.

3         There is a fallacy among many who would call themselves Christian that showing up at church on Sunday morning fulfills the major portion of our obligation to God.  This fallacy further assumes that “faith” has little bearing on how a person lives and works on a daily basis.  If these were true, then putting our faith in action, as we have aimed to do as a congregation, would be an optional choice for any church member to accept or decline.  But it is clear in the teachings of Jesus that serving others is not an option for his followers; it is a mandate!  If there is some faith apart from action, what would that be?  Would it not be lifeless and powerless?  Indeed, the apostle James declared that such a “faith” is dead.

4         The “Action” part of our faith is not limited to some program promoted by our church.  Our faith in action should be a daily quest to be a part of God’s mission to redeem His lost world.  Jesus calls all who would seek to follow Him to forget self to serve others in humility.  The more we do this, the closer we grow to Jesus and the brighter shines God’s image in us.

5         We are blessed to BE a blessing.  When we keep the blessing of God for ourselves only, they diminish and leave us.  When we use our blessings to bless others, it enhances our own blessings and they grow to even more.  The Jesus-way of living, selfish giving and serving in humility, is the way that leads to life, real life, eternal life, the life-from-above.  When we put our faith in action, it leads us to even more faith and life.

6         A huge flood is the result of single drops of rain.  When Lake Travis is filled up again, it will be the result of single drops of rain, many of them, falling on the ground.  Every week we pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven – God’s kingdom to come to earth.  How could that ever be possible except by one person at a time choosing to be a part of God’s kingdom and doing God’s will on earth?  Our individual acts of kindness and blessing to others in Jesus’ name can all add up to a huge flood of God’s compassion for His world – one drop at a time.  “We can do not great things, only small things with great love.  It is not how much you do but how much love you put into doing it.”  -Mother Teresa

7        Putting our faith in action brings us together.  When we focus mainly on ourselves, our differences take precedence and divide us and make us weak.  But when we focus on God’s great vision of love for his world, our individual differences diminish and become secondary.  Sure, we have individual differences, theologically, politically, tastes in worship and music, etc., but all our differences take a back seat to our common calling to serve and love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, to be God’s salvation-agents in his world.  Even though our serving is in many ways, it all adds together and focuses on the greater goal that God puts before his people.

  • How would God convince us to not value too highly our money and things we have?  By giving them away in sharing with the poor and needy.
  • How can God enlarge our hearts to love more?  By providing opportunities to see the needs of others and moving us to help.
  • How does God want us to care for the poor and needy?  To learn their names, to listen to their hopes and dreams and fears, to hear their stories.

My Great Money Making Scheme

I want to share with you my idea on how to make a lot of money real quick with little effort.  Now don’t get too exicted about doing this yourself because I’ve already set things in motion to do this myself and you are already too late.  So you can see right off that I’m not making money by just selling the idea to foolish people who want to believe they can profit from laziness.

In order to give proper credit, I must confess that I got the basis for this idea from my father years ago.  Here it is:  he was afraid to lick a stamp.  Huh? you say.  That’s it?!  Yep.  Let me explain.  Dad knew that germs and all kinds of evil things could be lurking in the glue of a stamp.  So he never licked a stamp.  He’d use a special sponge made for stamps.  Same on sealing an envelope.  It took a hundred years, but the US post office finally caught on to this common fear and now stamps have their own contact adhesive with no licking required.  My dad climbed around on steel beams to build buildings and thus didn’t have a lot of fears, but this was one.  Compared to my mother he didn’t have any fears at all; she had the market captured.

The reason I think this idea is sure to win is because it’s based on fear.  The plan has only a few simple steps.  First, I buy stock in companies like 3M that make the adhesives used for non-licking stamps.  I also buy sponge futures and all hedge funds that deal with them.  Then I put out a simple email telling how the terrorists have contaminated the US glue supply with a deadly biological strain that is undetectable by any but the most complicated analysis.  One little lick will kill you.  Getting this email circulated is the easiest part.  I just send it to a few folks that keep sending me all the bogus emails that won’t die.  If you’ve been around long enough, you should know them well.  The first one I remember is the warning to not flick your headlights to another car that had a headlight out because there was a gang of young men whose initiation rights were to drive a one headlight car and shoot any car that flicked them.  Another famous “fools gold” email was that Microsoft and AOL had teamed up to pay $100 to anyone who signed on to some email experiment.  I must have got this a hundred times from people who wanted to believe they could pocket an easy hundred bucks.  A more recent example is the email that warned of the results of some new study that found a carcinogenic agent in plastic bottles.  This one spread around like a wild fire in the dry California hills.  So I’m not worried that my simple little email about terrorists and glue would not soon become a widespread urban legend because it’s based on fear.  It must be human nature that we readily believe things that are based on fear but resist with great cynicism anything that might spread optimism and hope.  Why is that?  Part of our fallen nature?  I don’t know, and don’t have to know to capitalize on it.  Because after most everyone is convinced all the glue in the world is contaminated the price of sponge futures will absolutely skyrocket.  So will the stock of all adhesive companies.  Then I sell all my investments and move to Mexico.

There you  have it.  And I can hear you saying to yourself, “Now why didn’t I think of that?!”