Life in Balance
I recall going to the circus years ago and watching a tightrope walker performing his high-wire act. As he slowly maneuvered his way across the wire, the tension in the crowd was palpable. One misstep could throw off his balance and cause him to plummet to the ground.
I have had the blessing of watching my two daughters go through the process of learning to walk; to see them gradually understand the importance of balance. I have learned to balance a checkbook, and to balance my work life and home life. In dealing with a variety of sports related injuries, I have learned how an injury to one part of your body causes the rest of your body to try and compensate for the injured part.
Faith in Balance
Our theology is also meant to be balanced. The New Testament talks a great deal about the balance between faith and works. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us “For grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” This means we can try our absolute hardest to “earn” salvation through living a good life, doing kind deeds, giving generous gifts, or sacrificing our bodies, but it is not enough. We’re sinners who can never redeem ourselves in God’s sight by our own efforts.
However, Jesus’ half brother James wanted to flesh out an apparent misunderstanding. His letter provides a counterbalance by reminding us that although we are not saved by good works, we have been saved for good works. Faith is the source of our salvation, but good works is the way we express the reality of our salvation. James goes so far as to say faith without works is dead. I believe that good works is the proof to answer in the affirmative about our faith with regards to the question “Do you really believe that what you believe is really real?” We were never made to simply stand on the sideline with a sign that reads John 3:16.
Light of the World
An important question to reflect on is: “Do others see me through the framework of faith that I profess to?” More and more people are leaving the institutional church in the name of looking for authenticity within the faith. Simply put, they want to know whether or not Christians live by faith when the rubber meets the road. When tragedy strikes in your life or in the life of someone close to you, do you respond as someone who knows He who is in control? As you sense the vibrating of all of the anxious Americans around you over the upcoming election, are you so worried…so anxious, that you are vibrating in fear feeling that if the “wrong” person is elected this country is over? Even if the country as we have known it is over, the person elected will not be a surprise to God. We are to be the light of the world, the beacons of hope, offering a life counter-cultural…a life focused on what truly matters!
Jesus has called us to be the Light of the World. He plainly said, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Because we want to be known as people of faith, it is crucial that we not forget “The world around us can’t see our inner faith, but it can see the good works that flow from our faith.” It is because of this light that many orphanages have been sponsored, many schools built, food has been brought to those suffering from famine and disease in the name of generosity, child labor practices and the abolition of slavery in Great Britain were fought for. It’s the influence of Christians in society that has built hospitals, halted infanticide, and discouraged the killing of unborn babies.
Jesus never meant for our faith to stop when we exit the doors of the place we worship. We have always been called to be a people of prayer AND of action. We are to live missionally…to cross boundaries that might have kept us from shining the light of Christ to others. I recently came across a satirical story that brought the truth home for me about where we find ourselves if we allow ourselves to stand detached from truly being a light in our world.
I was hungry and you formed a humanities club and discussed my hunger. I was
imprisoned and you crept off quietly to your chapel in the cellar and prayed for my
release. I was naked and in your mind you debated the morality of my appearance. I
was sick and you knelt and thanked God for your health. I was homeless and you /
preached to me about the spiritual shelter of the love of God. I was lonely and you
left me alone to pray for me. Christian, you seem so holy; so close to God. But I’m
still very hungry, and lonely, and cold...
Being On Mission
Being on mission means that each of us is intentional in how we show up in our lives. Every interaction…every word, thought, and deed, is significant because they are said to, thought about, or done to someone who was made in the image of God. God has designed us for a purpose, for His mission of restoring Creation. It isn’t about what someone else is doing (or not doing) or how someone else is being (or not being) intentional about being a light…it is about how YOU be.
Is there someone in your life that you need to be willing to engage with in a way you haven’t before? How can you share the love of Jesus with those you come into contact with? Others will know Jesus by the love you show before they will know Jesus because of the faith you profess. God has called each of us to be a light to those who we rub shoulders with. Go and be that light!