14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?
Faith, like human body, needs to be active. Faith needs exercise and a prudent diet. But like human body, faith can grow fat, lazy and clogged. IT CAN EVENTUALLY DIE. To keep our faith alive, we must be up and doing in responsible and caring ways. WE MUST PUT OUR FAITH INTO ACTION.
The Epistle of James 2: 14-26 powerfully captures the relationship between faith and action in a timeless way. Some people are professing faith without practicing it. They know the content of the faith. But they do not see meeting the needs of others as being essential to a living, active faith. If others lack the very basics of clothing, food and shelter what is the response? “Goodbye and good luck! Keep warm and well fed.” James clearly indicates that such a response is totally lacking and lifeless. Such faith does not become involved in or linked to the real, basic needs of fellow human beings. Such faith does not see a fellow human, made in the image and likeness of God, in need of our help. Worse still, such faith does not experience the neediness of Jesus in the least of our brothers and sisters. As James puts it: “FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD!” (James 2:26).
AN ACTIVE FAITH REQUIRES RISK-TAKING. We must become involved in the concerns and hurts of those in need. This means that we must be open and vulnerable as well. Of course, none of this is easy. It is much safer to wish good luck to those in need but do nothing to share in their burdens. We stay in our pew and do not venture out to seek our brothers and sisters who lack food, clothing, shelter, respect and dignity.
To put the matter quite simply, TRUE FAITH IS A DAILY JOURNEY INTO THE MYSTERY OF THE CROSS. To truly believe Jesus-to truly make Him the Lord and Savior of our life, means turning OUR FACE to Jerusalem. We must be willing to oppose injustice and all the forces of evil which divide, separate and dehumanize. We must be willing to place ourselves on the line for righteousness’ sake. An active faith means that we must be willing to confront and name the principalities and powers of darkness which turn people against one another in the pursuit of pleasures, honors and riches.
Our faith must be one which goes to Jerusalem daily. We must take up our cross and follow in Jesus’ foot-steps. We must lose our lives daily so as to find life eternal. Judged by human standards, there are safer and more comfortable ways. For us, it can only be the daily laying down of our lives so as to join our cross with Jesus, in the hope of eternal life.
I believe that one of the questions that we need to ask this Lenten Season is: “HOW DO I KNOW THAT I HAVE FAITH?”