Faith without works is dead.
Something to think about
The letter of James has had a mixed history. Martin Luther described it as ‘an epistle of straw’. Luther struggled to ensure that Christians do not fall into the trap of thinking we can earn, or buy, our way into God’s favour.
Our relationship with God is built on the foundation of our faith, our belief in God, who made us, who saved us and who sustains us through the power of the Spirit.
James fully agrees with this thinking, but he emphasises that faith has to take shape in good works, otherwise it becomes nonsense.
It is as if someone says they have a passion for gardening but never raises a finger to sort out their own garden, or as if a parent says they love their children but allows them to grow up unloved and neglected.
And James makes it very clear that the good works he has in mind involve caring for those in need: ‘If a brother or a sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill”, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?’ (2:15-16).
So our involvement with Christian Aid is a blessing to us. We have a God-given opportunity to live out our faith, moving beyond pious words and good intentions, to make a real difference in the lives of our sisters and brothers who struggle with poverty.
Something to do
Listen and sing along to this recording of Sydney Carter’s hymn, written for Christian Aid: ‘When I needed a neighbour’. As you do so, picture in your head the groups of people it describes. Perhaps images from the news will come to mind. Ask yourself whether God is leading you to make your faith real by responding to someone’s need today.