Rev. Terry Goerz,
Redeemer Lutheran Church.
Are you a swimmer?
Are you comfortable jumping into the deep end of the pool with no life jacket.
Think back to that first time you jumped into water over your head.
There was probably a lot of anxiety inside you as you stood at the edge of the pool.
Let’s do a bit of imagining here.
You are not a swimmer .The deepest water you have been in was in the bathtub.
You are at a diving pool that has no shallow end.
All the water is well over your head.
You have decided to learn to swim and the first lesson is treading water.
You have taken the lessons and the instructor had explained that a human body is slightly less dense than water, and so if you jump in you will float to the surface of the water.
You took science in school and you remember Bernoulli’s laws and Pascal’s laws, and Archimedes’ principle.
In your head you can say with certainty that the science is true.
You truly believe that if you jumped in that you would float back up to the surface.
What is it that stops you from jumping in?
Why all this anxiety.
Faith is something more that just knowing all the facts and believing that they are true.
Faith goes beyond believing to trusting.
In Christianity this trust is not something we conger up from within ourselves.
It is a gift from God. In fact we have to be enabled by God to have faith for salvation.
In John 6:65 Jesus said “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.”
Now, with this understanding of the difference between believing and faith fresh in our minds, let’s go back to the imaginary pool.
You are at the edge full of anxiety.
Everyone is waiting for you to jump in.
You know all the facts, you believe the science. You will not be able to jump in until you have faith in the science.
You could say you demonstrate your faith in the science by jumping in.
All those watching will know you have faith in the science if you jump in.
In Christianity it is God who gives us the faith to “jump in”.
For those who know you, you are demonstrating your faith by your action if you jump in.
James 2: 18b says “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”
Can you see what James is getting at here?
Actions speak louder than words.
We can claim to be Christians.
Those around us may believe that in an intellectual sense based on what we say.
They will truly know it in a faith sense based on what we do.
We demonstrate our Christianity through our actions.
Our faith is hidden inside us.
It cannot be measured with a fancy electronic instrument.
You can have a cat scan or an MRI, and your faith will not show up.
James is being rhetorical when he says “show me your faith without deeds.”
If we want to show our faith we need to do as James says “I will show you my faith by what I do”.
How important is this you may wonder.
You have confidence in your salvation.
Why do you have to prove anything?
Well as soon as we let anyone know we are a Christian or they find out we are a Christian we will be watched. There is this misconception all over the world that you become a Christian by being good.
You can only get into heaven if you have been good enough.
So for that non Christian friend or neighbor or work aquaintance, you cannot really be a Christian if they see any sin in your life.
Even without trying your life is a living witness of your faith.
What those non Christians see of our life can either create opportunities for you to witness your faith on a personal level, or confirm the popular saying “the church is full of hypocrites”.
So what the world sees is very important.
When non-Christians see the fruit of the Spirit in you life – that is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control – and if God is calling them, we demonstrate the effect that Christianity has had on our lives.
They can talk to us or ask questions with confidence that we are the real thing.
They may be at the edge of the pool “gathering the courage to jump in”.
Remember God is calling them, drawing and enabling them.
The Holy Spirit is at work in them.
He will lead them to open the door for our witness.
It is like we are in the pool floating and beconing them to jump in.
And every Christian should as Peter says in 1Peter 3:15 “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
So “we show our faith by what we do”.
For all the non-Christians around us we are a living billboard advertisement for Christianity.
What they see can create opportunities for God to work in the lives of those he is calling or it can close their ears and hearts.
Their conversion is in God’s hands, but God has given us the responsibility of spreading the message.
1 Corinthians 2: 18 – 20 “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”
So the witness of faith, the message of reconciliation, is in our hands.
That witness or message is not only in our words but is even louder in what we do.