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Posts Tagged ‘Orphan’

I have shared more than a few personal stories, and have tried to somehow relate them to a Gospel message that might be encouraging or insightful.  Sometimes I have tried to make them humorous, but others are simply just facts of life where I have failed or struggled with the God to whom all hearts are open. I guess you can consider the stories confessions of sorts.

Who knows? But what I do know is that one of the things that drives all of these stories – is my inaction. Places where I have failed God by my inability to act upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My most painful experiences as a Christian, are those times in which I did not put physical form to the love of Jesus Christ.

Sure, I have faith. Having faith for me is usually the easy part. I have experienced too many supernatural things for me to so easily discount the ability of God to exist. And logically, throughout all of my searching and wandering, I have yet to find a more compelling case than that of Jesus of Nazareth. Not only as evidenced in the Scriptures, but in my own life as well.

The problem with faith however, is that it is useless all alone. It can no more save a man’s soul, than raise the dead. Faith requires a body to enact it. Every time in the New Testament, when Jesus heals someone, he always says that it is their faith that has made them whole. The thing is, he always requires a physical action to prove that faith.

In James, it is written that we must be doers of the word, and not only hearers. Those who only hear the word, are like people who look in a mirror. They look at themselves, and turn away, only to forget what they are like. But those who study the perfect law, the law of Christ, and put it into practice, those people will be blessed. (James 1)

James continues this in chapter two, where he admonishes those who believe that faith alone will save them. For even the demons believe in God. But faith must be accompanied by action. Who are we to disagree? Time and time again, it is proven that a person of true faith will act out on his faith. They will abide by the Lord’s commands: love God, and love thy neighbor.

How can we love our neighbor if we do not show them our love? If I never speak to my neighbor, can I truly be loving him? How will I show my love if I never offer to mow his yard? Or the widow across the street, how will she know my love for her if I never offer to fix her mailbox that has been smashed by renegade kids?

The Scriptures say that they will know we are Christians by our actions. For a healthy tree bears forth good fruit. But inaction is the sign of a tree that is dying from within. It is the fig tree that the Lord curses and which withers away.

According to Ezekiel, the sin of Sodom was that she was full of pride, and had plenty of food. She was prosperous, but did not aid the poor and the needy. Because of this they were haughty, and did horrible deeds. Inaction is just as sinful as physically committing evil deeds.

The Book of Common Prayer portrays this beautifully in the Confession of Sin: “Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone…” it adds, “We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves…” It recognizes that the two go hand in hand.

Faith without works is not only useless, it is dangerous. For it leads to arrogance and pride. Self-righteousness leads to Pharisaism. It wasn’t the faith that the Pharisees had that he opposed – it was the way they approached faith. Their faith did not care for the poor and the oppressed. It had no action behind it.

God does not wish sacrifices of blood and flesh, but sacrifices of justice and mercy. How can we offer those sacrifices if we do not choose to act on our faith? The faith that teaches us to not only love God, but to love our neighbors as ourselves?

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Why should we pray to God?

The prevailing viewpoint in America is that we should not pray to God, at all. This viewpoint stems from the period of Enlightenment, and questions whether God even exists. It also posits: that if God does exist, then praying to Him is pointless because He does not answer our prayers. Supposed proof of this statement is backed with something akin to, “if God was real or all-powerful, He would abolish all evil”.

However, I would put forth that expecting God to solve all of humanity’s problems would be more the work of a magician or lesser deity, rather than the God who is described in the Scriptures. Regardless of whether or not one believes the book of Genesis to be historically factual, we have a pretty good idea about what kind of happened. Somewhere along the way, humanity rebelled against God and His perfect plan for the world. Our ancestors screwed up, and we lost the utopia known as Eden. The rest of the Hebrew Scriptures spend tremendous effort trying to convince us of where we went wrong, and how to get back to Paradise. They tell of a God who is constantly trying to get humanity back on the right track, back to perfect harmony.

But they also tell a different story – the story of a human race that though not intrinsically evil, often turns toward evil. God created mankind, and He called us good. But we fell, and we became broken. The ideal vision of humanity was now corrupted. So, not unlike a file that has been corrupted on a computer, we don’t act exactly how we are supposed to all of the time. We need to be restored back to how we were meant to be.

How does that happen?

The short answer, is through prayer. Paul gives us a little advice about this in 1 Thessalonians, where he exhorts us to pray without ceasing. This is a call back to the Gospel exhortation of Jesus himself. In the Gospel of Luke, chapter 18, Jesus tells a story about a widow who had been wronged, and a judge who was unjust. The judge did not want to help the widow find justice, but the widow would not let the matter rest. She begged and pleaded persistently, until finally, the judge relented. The unjust judge sought justice for the widow out of pure weariness. He was tired of her nagging.

One could probably take away a negative: that if God is like the unjust judge, then God Himself is unjust. The alternative, and more appropriate take-away, is that if even an unjust judge will find justice after persistent nagging, how much more likely is God to answer the prayers of people whom He loves dearly? Jesus insisted that God will give justice to those who cry out to Him day and night – persistent prayers will be answered.

Why then, should we pray to God? Because He cares for the sparrows and for the lilies; how much more then does He care for us? And if such love is magnified, then how much more quick will He be to answer our prayers and petitions out of love. What father would give his child poison, when he asks for bread?

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