We're in the middle of our series called "All In," which is all about risking ourselves for the sake of someone else. One of the big themes has been about how, as Christians, we have a calling to live up to. Jesus set the standard for what it means to serve - to risk, to give, to care for others in a selfless way. Jesus tells us in Matthew 25 that the criteria for getting into the Kingdom of Heaven is clear. We are to put our faith into action by serving the hungry, the thirsty, the strangers, the sick , the poor.
So great! I can just check a bunch of things off a list: Serve at a soup kitchen, pass out water bottles, be nice to people, donate money. That means I get to go to Heaven, right?
Kind of. There's an important distinction to make, which we'll be discussing this Sunday at Roots. Yes, it's important to do those things. But what gets us to Heaven?
Jesus answers the question very clearly in John 14: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). Paul gives us a little more detail in his letter to the Ephesians: "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
So what's the point of taking a risk and serving others, especially when it's not convenient or comfortable for us? The Bible says all we need to do is trust is Jesus. Why bother with all the other stuff?
Our key passage for this Sunday gives us some insight. "What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?" (James 2:14). Here's the point: how can you claim to have faith in Jesus if you don't live like He did? How can you say you love God if you don't obey His commands? How can you love like God loves if you're not sacrificial? God's love for us was as sacrificial as it gets. He made Himself subject to life as a human - to the point of death. How can we take that love from God, yet refuse to pay it out to others?
This Sunday, we will open the can of worms that is faith vs. works. Pray for us and our students as we discuss this challenging topic!