In the New Testament lesson from today’s Daily Office we find these words:
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:14-17)
In the past week or so, it has been inspiring to see the outpouring of love and support for all the families that were impacted by the recent flooding along the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana. Who knows how many hundreds if not thousands of volunteers have reached out — sometimes at the risk of their own safety — to rescue people from imminent danger; and who knows how many more have donated time, or money, or needed supplies in order to support the initial relief effort?
Of course, in an age where our concern and compassion is sometimes demonstrated by little more than a “like” or a “share” on a story that we see online, one can only pray that all the social media expressions of support are also being translated into tangible expressions of support. To paraphrase today’s lesson: “If a brother or sisters has just lost everything, and one of you posts ‘Pray for Houston’ but does nothing to help them rebuild, what good is it?” And what’s more, one can only hope that our faith in the God who loves and brings healing will continue to be tangibly expressed in the months and years ahead when Hurricane Harvey is no longer in the headlines but people are still struggling to overcome its impact.
Of course, in saying this I’m only repeating the kind of thing that social observers who are far more insightful than I am have been saying for years. And in focusing on the “big picture” like that, perhaps I’m making it a little too easy for me to avoid the question I really ought to be asking: How is my faith working today? How am I giving tangible expression — in my family, in my workplace, in my community — to the amazing grace and self-sacrificing love of God that has reached out in Jesus to make me its own?
May my faith (and your faith and our faith) be accompanied by action today; and may our trust in the One who blesses make it possible for us to be a blessing — so that His hope shines a little brighter in the lives of those who need it most.