August 16, 2020, James 2:14-26 – ISSL Reflections

Last week listened to James tell us that we must not be mere hearers of “the word” but must follow through the hearing, the listening, with action.

This week he takes the challenge further and forces us to consider the relationship of faith and works.

Read this week’s Scripture and pay attention to how James challenges us. Does he make you uncomfortable or do you find his remarks to your liking?

James 2:14-26 (NRSV)

What 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.

James asks, “Can faith save you?”

Most church going folk I know would quickly answer “Yes! And that’s the only thing that can save you!”

But James says, “… faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”

Really? Dead?

And then, “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.”

Think carefully about James’ claims.

Do they make you uncomfortable?

Does he challenge your theology?

Or do you find his words liberating?

And more to the point, how do you make sense of what he says to you in regard to how you live as a disciple of Jesus?

Let’s spend some time thinking about this and get back together later.

{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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