Perhaps the hardest thing for me to do is to see myself as I really am. I have only to gaze on the less fortunate among us to know the truth.
It is not enough to listen to my heart and to have faith in God if I remain blind to the fact that we are all connected.
If one among us is in need — and there will always be those among us in need — then so too are we. The beauty of our humanity lies in our capacity to hear God’s voice and act upon it. The strength of our relationship with God reflects itself in the needs of others among us.
When God speaks to us, God is asking that we not only listen with our hearts but that we act out of love for God and one another. Apostle James embodied this concept: “… When will you ever learn that ‘believing’ is useless without doing what God wants you to? Faith that does not result in good deeds is not real faith.” (James 2:20)
“And remember, it is a message to obey, not just to listen to. So don’t fool yourselves. For if a person just listens and doesn’t obey, he is like a man looking at his face in a mirror; as soon as he walks away, he can’t see himself anymore or remember what he looks like. But if anyone keeps looking steadily into God’s law for free men, he will not only remember it but he will do what it says, and God will greatly bless him in everything he does.” James 2:22-25)
Sometimes I wish I hadn’t heard God talking to me because with the knowledge of what He is asking of me comes the responsibility to choose whether to obey? And I know that I must challenge my concept of who I am; I must re-examine my priorities and expose my complicity of inaction in not helping others in need. And that terrifies me. But then I feel the warmth of Jesus’ embrace as my heart whispers to me, “You made the choice to act when you made the effort to listen to God and understand. What you are doing now is not deciding whether to act, but how.”
I’m comfortable with the “status quo” because it is familiar. Feeling comfortable is seductive because it masquerades as a peaceful heart. But familiarity isn’t that: It is a friend of spiritual slumber. Familiarity often masks the need for change.
Hal David wrote lyrics to a hit song in 1965 with the following lyrics, “What the world needs now is love.” It’s true. But the world also needs good acts for love to be realized. The world is thirsty for them. Cries for help hunger for a response.
I believe that failure to translate our faith into action may feel to God as unrequited love. God sacrificed His Son for us; God’s expression of love for us has always been action. He is not a passive God. Without action, we are at best passive recipients of God’s love. Without good deeds, our faith is useless to Him. “…Faith that doesn’t show itself by good works is no faith at all — it is dead and useless.” (2 James: 17)
It’s not for me to judge others and, speaking frankly, I would feel hypocritical if I did. But I do believe that most of us can probably express our faith in God better by doing more to answer the cries of help that we hear. With God’s grace, we will be able to hear. With God’s grace, we will find a way to act.
Photo by Vasilis Ververidis