Acts 6:1–7, James 2:14–26
In his book, With Unveiled Faces, Kieth Drury writes, “Serious Christians get into lifesaving boats and go to sea to rescue people in need, refusing to sit in our warm lighthouses waiting for the shipwrecked to wash up on shore.”
As we talk this week about connecting with God through the work of our hands, one of the biggest ways the church has done this is through serving the poor. Sadly, there has come a time where serving the poor has become business dressed in the clothes of mercy. This does not excuse Christians from serving the poor, but it does require greater discernment than it has in the past.
Does this mean that everyone is called to directly serve the poor? No. That’s why there were certain people tasked with doing it, as shown in Acts. However, the “greater” church was behind them both in moral support, but also with the resources necessary.
One of the big (and valid, to a point) arguments against the church helping those outside of “the church” is that “charity starts at home.” This was actually written by Charles Dickens. There is a great amount of truth in that statement, and it should be the case within the Christian framily. However, “start” is the operative word. It must start at home, for that is where the groundwork is laid. It is groundwork. It is foundational. Yet, just like for a home, a foundation is only the beginning.
Martin Luther struggled with the book of James, in particular this passage. Luther struggled with the concept of works as faith. James’ words were too similar to earning one’s way to Heaven, one of the issues that was at the root of his separation from the Roman Catholic church. James’ point was not that works would earn grace, but works were the evidence of faith and grace poured out.
1) Many Christians have been taught to avoid “works righteousness”. What are they? What is the difference between that and “faith and grace” poured out?
2) Why are actions so important in regards to our faith?
3) Why do we struggle so much with action?