Some thoughts from John on the subject of Phil’s sermon

John at Brodie

John writes

Thanks Phil for your sermon, and for reminding us that genuine faith will always express itself in actions.  As you said, this is true of all the things we say we believe: we may express words of compassion for people in need, people facing inequalities, but what are these words worth if we do nothing?

I think you were absolutely right to remind us that there’s more to faith than saying the words ‘I believe in Jesus.’  Rather it’s an opening up of our lives to the Great Love who reaches us through Jesus and who if we listen, will constantly prompt us to express love in everything.  All we need to do (and we struggle with this often) is to be open to the inner promptings of love.  And to be kind to ourselves, remembering that we all mess up, and to learn to forgive ourselves as God forgives us and seek to love better the next day.

Phil was talking about things we could do as an expression of love – rightly so. I think initially however we probably don’t need to be looking for other things to do – rather we should be seeking, with God’s help, to show love, kindness and grace in every situation, every conversation we find ourselves in with the folk who people our everyday.

I can imagine someone reading James 2 and worrying about whether their faith is genuine, and feeling bad about what they see as their lack of love. Such a person might throw themselves into frantic action, trying to prove to themselves (and perhaps to God also) that their faith is sufficient.  What I’d say to someone in that situation is first, ‘If you are worried about your faith, then that is a sign of its genuineness.’  But most importantly, I’d say ‘Stop! Before you do any more rushing around trying to show love to others, be still. Just remember what Phil said about “unconditional love.”  You are loved, and cherished, and precious. Know yourself loved by God, and then you will be set free to serve others. Jesus said “Love your neighbour as yourself”  Perhaps the loving actions you need to take now are an expression of faith that God indeed loves you. Act in love towards the self you have perhaps for years been pummelling through a sense of inadequacy.’

It’s a life-long journey, this learning to entrust ourselves to a God who loves us. There will be times when we have no sense of God, no sense of inner love, there will be times when we’re full of doubts and wonder if we’ve been deluding ourselves. And we will choose to act in love, even when our faith seems minimal and wavering.  But don’t you see that that very choice to act in love is itself an evidence of faith?

Finally, here are many people in the world who are not Christians, but nevertheless show love and compassion (sometimes more profoundly than many Christians do.)  They have heard the call of the Great Love, and they have entrusted themselves to this Love, just as Rahab in today’s passage entrusted herself to the God of Israel.   They know the Love, even though they may not yet have heard that his name is Jesus.

 

 

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