I have had so many thoughts and ideas floating around in my head this past week for posts, that I’ve had some trouble deciding what to write about first. I have that trouble a lot. My brain is wired to never shut off. At work, I’m thinking of stuff to do at home. At home, I’m thinking of stuff for work. When I’m making dinner, I’m thinking of stuff I need to do around the house. When I’m cleaning up, I’m thinking of stuff that I need to do with the kids. At night-time, as I’m laying in my bed, well, I’m thinking about all of it. So, you can see how I may have trouble settling on what to write about with so many ideas floating around. So, guess what I did? I prayed about it, and lo, and behold, now I know what to write. Love how that prayer thing can work!
A couple of weeks ago, I was blessed to pre-screen a showing of the new Pure Flix movie, “Do You Believe?” It was a phenomenal movie. While I highly recommend that you grab some friends and run out and see it opening weekend, that’s not what this particular post is about. I’ll touch on the movie later in this week. What this post is about is this: since I’ve left the movie, I can’t shake off the feeling that the Lord is sending me a personal challenge. Frankly, I don’t want to take it. I’d rather wave my white surrender flag and walk away now.
The basis of the film is taken from a section of powerful scripture in James. No one knows for sure which James wrote this, but most Bible scholars will agree that it was Jesus’ brother. He was writing it to the “twelve tribes”, meaning the people of Israel at the time who had become followers of Christ, or in a symbolic manner, all believers of Christ, Jews or Gentiles. In other words, he was addressing you, me or anyone at all who professes a faith in Christ.
In his letter, James is calling us all out on our hypocrisies. It’s like a wake up call to all Christian slackers. He argues that if we truly believe what Christ said, then we had better start showing it. He addresses many things we aren’t doing, but the thing that just really hit home with me is what he says in Chapter 2: 14-17:
“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith, but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one says to him, “Go, I wish you well, keep warm and well fed, but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead .
He goes onto to give examples of Abraham willing to sacrifice Issac or Rahab, a lowly prostitute, who was brave and willing to give lodging to Joshua’s spies, and later lying to the king about it. They both were willing to risk their very lives rather than deny their faith in God. After citing these examples, James continues in the chapter with verse 26:
“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”
Man, that is good, ladies!! You may be asking yourselves just what this means for us today? Are we to be willing to sacrifice ourselves , or worse, our sons (or daughters) to honor Christ’s name? Willing to be brave like Rahab? The short answer, yes.
The more I read and dwell on the Lord’s word, the more I sense I’m not doing enough for Christ or in Christ’s name. Now, if you personally knew me, I think you’d probably think I was crazy making that statement. I’m a strong Christian woman who was blessed to grow up in a Christian home with parents who were and are strong believers. I’m married to a Christian man who also grew up in a Christian home and together, we are raising two young boys in a Christian home, doing our best to instill the wisdom and love for the Lord in both. I’m a Sunday School teacher, VBS director, and after school JOY club leader at my workplace. We sponsor two children through World Vision and I’m a co-ordinator for the local Operation Christmas Child Relay Center. Of course, I’m acting out my faith!!! These very things I’ve listed can attest to that.
However, while these things are awesome, and I feel truly called through prayer to serve in all these areas, is it enough? I don’t think so. Take the examples of Abraham and Rahab given to us by James. Talk about action! They were really willing to risk their lives and those they loved for Christ. He talks of actually giving clothes and food to someone when we see them in need. Why give these examples, if James wasn’t calling us to perform extreme acts of faith as well? I believe we are meant to push beyond our comfort zones, whatever they may be, for Him.
My comfort zone, obviously, is working with children within the confines of the church or classroom walls. Terrifying for some, I’m sure, but easy for me. A breeze that doesn’t take a terrifying leap for me to do. But, I will shamefully admit, when I see a homeless man outside the drugstore, I will pull my children close, and quickly walk a wide berth around him, praying he “bothers” someone else. After all, if I give him money, he’ll just use it to feed his habits, right? And it’s not like I can go buy some McDonald’s food for him, which is in the same parking lot, because I am on a super tight budget and that eight bucks can go a long way in my Aldi’s food budget. Or, you know, my Dunkin Donuts coffee budget, which is also conveniently in the same lot as the drugstore.
I’ve felt tugs on my heartstrings the past couple of years about going on one of the many mission’s trips my church takes. I’ve shooed those same tugs away with excuses like,” I can’t leave my kids for a week,” or “I can’t take my kids with me to such a desolate place, they don’t need to see that,” or, and this is a good one, “I’m not called to the mission field abroad. Besides Operation Christmas Child does a great job of my part in fulfilling the Great Commission.”
While I love children, I’ve also ignored the pull to participate in a VBS that our youth mission’s group has put on in the summer because it’s in a really bad area of the next town over. I just donate supplies instead.
I know I’m not alone in feeling this way, I can’t be. We are called to do and be more. We are all called to be Abrahams and Rahabs for Jesus. I’m sure they weren’t at all comfortable with what God was calling them to do. Abraham was told to burn Issac as a sacrifice!!! They were pushed out of their comfort zones for sure. They didn’t let Satan keep them where they were. They ignored him and chose to show faith through acting extreme. You can be sure that Satan is the one feeding us thoughts of excuses and fears. His Word assures us of that.
All around the world, Christians are answering the call to not deny Him or His calling. To act out their faith in the extreme. Some, more so than others. I’m sure everyone reading this has heard about the beheadings of the 21 Egyptian Christians, who refused to renounce Him. Just today, they took another 100 Christians. For the most part, there has not been much public Christian outcry, as a whole, by the Christian community, as far as I can tell. At least on social media and news in my neck of the woods. Maybe we feel it’s too far away or it’s not our concern. Or maybe, we’re too busy prioritizing other things. I’m guilty of that. But, it is Our concern. Just look at His word. The challenge is there. We need to support our brothers and sisters with prayers, by speaking out and up for them and by being willing to also stand in the Lord through great acts of faith.
I’ve been too complacent in my faith and too comfortable within the walls of my comfort zone. Don’t get me wrong. I love what I do. I know it’s makes a difference in His name. I just don’t think it is enough anymore. I want my kids to want to grow up and serve their church the way I do, yes, definitely. But, I also want them to grow up and not be afraid to be extreme in their actions of faith for Him. To become great men of God. And if I don’t lead by example, the likelihood of that happening isn’t good.
Am I going to book us all on a mission trip to a remote island that leaves tomorrow? Hmm, probably not. But, can I begin to step out of my comfort zone and take them to help at a soup kitchen or buy a burger for the guy outside the drugstore or help at the VBS I’m the city? Yes. And so can you. Who knows? Maybe we will all meet on that mission trip next year. Whatever we choose, we can be sure the Lord will lead us out of our comfort zones if we allow Him to. After all, He always has our back.