What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. James 2:14–17, ESV.
Once every day, I go to the PA Department of Health website to look at a map. It is not a map that will help me find my way from point A to point B. It is a map that shows, county-by-county, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 and the number of associated deaths. The red, orange, and yellow colors indicate the highest numbers and every day they spread out a little further from their epicenters in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. As of yesterday, our rural county is only light green and the counties around it are still grey (no cases). Even so, the wave of red, orange, and yellow is moving our way.
As a Christian, I grieve with those who have lost loved ones and I am concerned for those I love who might be at serious risk if they were to catch this illness. Even so, the Bible tells us that this is not the time to cower in fear. We are to have faith in our mighty and good God. He is our one hope in life and in death. The salvation bought by the death and resurrection of Christ is sure and sealed for all who have faith in Him.
Into that experience of faith, even faith in the storm of pandemic, James comes and tells us to get to work! James will not buy our claim to faith if he does not see our works. If we offer platitudes to people who need our help when it is in our power to help them, then James would even call our faith dead.
In times like these, we must lean hard on Jesus, having faith in His might, His goodness, and His perfect salvation. But James tells us that leaning hard on Him will look a lot like going to the poor and the hungry with food and clothing and care. Living faith works.
How does this living faith work during a pandemic? It may work by social distancing, keeping your distance to help others stay well. It may work by making masks for medical workers. It may work by getting groceries for folks who really need to stay home. It may work by calling or sending cards to those in nursing homes who cannot have visitors. It may work by paying a bill for someone whose job has fallen victim to the virus response. It may have to work in creative ways beyond what I can imagine this morning!
Be encouraged. Your God is still God. Jesus still saves. You can have faith . . . living faith.
May God bless you as you live that faith today. I am praying for you.