I remember hearing a story about a man who would walk high wires. High wires acts are something I can not even wrap my mind around seeing as how just the thought of hanging christmas lights outside while standing on a 6 foot ladder leaves my knees shaking. This man was performing on a high wire that was hanging over the Niagra Falls. He began by simply walking back and forth on the wire and then riding a unicycle across the wire. The crowd could not help but gather all around. He was putting on a show and the crowd was filled with not only awe but genuine excitement at this amazing feat. Finally the man dismounted the wire and approached the crowd, “How many of you believe I am capable of carrying another human across the wire as they sit in a wheel barrow?”, he asked. The crowd nodded, clapped, and roared with assurances, surely this man could do this great act. Then he asked, “Fantastic, who then will get in the barrow?”. The crowd made no noise.
James 2:14-26 serves as a great reminder for the believer about a faith demonstrated with action. The church building is filled with people who operate with only an “intellectual” faith or “emotional” faith but are absent of a genuinely dynamic faith. An intellectual faith and emotional faith are consistently found “action-less”. We see the brother or sister in need and offer a blessing in word only but do not intend to meet the need even when we have the means to do so. We come across a really moving worship song or sharply worded sermon and are stirred with emotion but, as all emotions do, the emotion flees and there has been no change. The christian story can not be told by those who consistently proclaim what they believe and yet, appear unwilling to live out the faith they proclaim.
No, the faith we are called to have, the faith that saves is the genuine faith. The faith the encompasses not only our intellect and emotion but our will. Our desires are no longer to live for self but instead to live in light of the faith we are growing in. Our worship songs allow us to cry out to God asking Him to move us beyond our comfort, the fill our lives with his presence, and yet, when God says “who is willing to get in the barrow?” we balk. We are no longer interested in allowing that intellectual and emotional faith be fully developed into a genuine, dynamic faith.
The challenge for us is to never be content with inaction in our lives. Instead, may we be intentional about not just proclaiming g a faith in God and His promises but living them out as Abraham did when he laid his promised son on the altar. May we see our lives being transformed by the beautiful gospel of Christ into lives lived for the Glory of God and not for the pursuit of self. The genuine faith is what we are called to and what an unbelieving world wants to see on display.