The supreme purpose of the Christian religion is to make men and women who are like Jesus so that they will act like Jesus. He wants us to live in this world, shining as lights, pointing the way to Jesus. He wants us to make a difference in the lives of others. He wants us to serve Him with joy, love, and a sense of dedication that supersedes all other loves and commitments. Simply believing in Jesus is never enough to satisfy the demands of the Christian faith. In Christ, the verbs “to be” and “to do” follow closely to faith.
Simply put, true religion should always lead to action. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27, ESV). I don’t think it is going too far to say that the only real Christians are the ones who are actively serving Him in some way. A Christian who is actively working and serving (not someone who did it in the past) is a person who genuinely loves Jesus and is the very type of person He wants us to be.
Cicero, the Roman orator, once warned that they (the Romans) were in danger of making philosophy a substitute for action instead of allowing it to prompt action. That is exactly what is happening in the church today. The faith of Jesus Christ was never meant to be an end in itself. It was never meant to be the end goal nor the whole point. In the minds of many today, faith stands in opposition to service; in opposition to doing good works. Yet, repeatedly in Scripture, the faith of Jesus is seen as a catalyst to doing good to all men (Gal. 6:9-10).
Rightly understood, faith is never a substitute for moral conduct or action but a means toward it. The tree does not serve in lieu of fruit but as the means of obtaining fruit. Fruit, not the tree, is the goal of God’s Vineyard (Isa. 5:1-7). To oppose a faith that works is to make the fruit the enemy of the tree which is exactly what Jesus desires for each of us. He wants us to bear fruit, not oppose it or refuse it (John 15:1-6).
It is much easier to pray for a poor friend’s needs to be meet than to supply them. James words sting with irony and relevance: “if a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also, faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:15-17). The great apostle John adds a lot of meaning to this idea for us in 1 John 3:17-19 (Please take a moment and read this passage). He poses a difficult question for us all. How can the love of God abide in you if you can see a brother or sister in need and close your heart to them? He elaborates on this by telling us to do more than love in words but in action.
My goal for this article is to inspire each of us to decide what kind of disciple we want to be. Do we want to be a disciple who watches, hopes and prays for the best, but ultimately doesn’t get involved? Are we simply “thermometers” or are we “thermostats?” Do we simply see the problems without being willing to make any changes?
I know that is not the case for most of you and I must say that I believe you genuinely want to get busy serving the Lord. But my question is “what are you waiting for?” You are extremely talented, capable, and can accomplish almost anything. You can see the problems and areas that need your attention and to make it even better; you feel passionate about those things. Don’t wait! Why not grab hold of whatever that is and get busy?