BOOK OF JAMES:
Faith and Deeds
by Tyler Pieper
Words like deeds or works have never resonated well with me. If I'm honest, they've often triggered the unhealthy performance-based part of my brain. (You know, the one that tells you that what you do is who you are). I typically react to words like these with an instantaneous feeling of having to be “on” for everyone always and jumping through hoops to somehow make grace "earnable" for myself.
So in James 2, when he says that faith and deeds are not mutually exclusive, I’ll admit… I tense up a little bit, and believe momentarily that this could be just one more expectation I may or may not fail to meet. And I don't like that, because it also means that I don't have faith figured out the way I thought I did.
This is why I'm thankful to have a place to grow.
I can come to church with questions and confusions about stuff like this, and it's totally okay, because that means I have something to actually apply the concept of faith to. Like I said, I know in my heart these things about performance aren't accurate, but sometimes I need other people to explain it in a way that I am unable to conclude for myself- and seeking this out is one small way I can propel my own faith forward with action.
Pastor Jesse explained it like this:
“It is never in our benefit put at odds what God says should compliment each other.”
Essentially, James was saying that faith and deeds are peanut butter and jelly, and they're supposed to be that way! One without the other simply isn’t auctionable. If we only ever came to faith and took no action, it would die. Faith is something that has to grow, and growth only comes by doing something with it.
For all believers, there exists a gap between here and eternity, a gap in which faith is needed. Not just freedom from the past and relief for the future, but an actual present day and moment to moment deliverance. A place where our personal and gracious reformation meets the reality of our own lives.
Believing that there is purpose in our everyday means acknowledging that there are things we need to apply our faith to. And though things get hard and things get scary, we are not hopeless creatures. Our faith, in the face of any trial or hang-up or concern or misunderstanding, is a well of reward.
Sometimes the reward of growing our faith looks like choosing to grieve your trauma instead of pretending like it didn’t happen.
Sometimes the reward of growing our faith means finally asking God the why of some really tough things you’ve gone through.
And sometimes, the reward of growing our faith means being able to laugh with joy on your way to see a mental health therapist, and knowing that even there… no, especially there… you have put action to your faith.
Pastor Jesse said it best: if your day to day isn’t better or inspired or enlightened... this “gathering” we have every week is ineffective. It means there’d be no point to what we’re doing.
Faith and deeds are constant companions, and sometimes, the reward is in acknowledging that it’s time to act like we believe what we say we do.