Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Works in the Life of a Christian

(This was the basis of a paper for graduate school.)

Works are not needed for salvation. Salvation can only come through faith in Jesus Christ and the saving grace his death and resurrection provide.  But what do works mean for a Christian?  It is said that “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17).  What is the purpose of these works for a Christian?


Matthew 5 might be the most important reason for good works given in the Bible. Its summary is here: “Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven” (Matt 5:16, The Message).    What we have here is servant evangelism.  It is not some new, modern way of doing evangelism.  This is what Jesus taught.  Investing in people’s lives allows the non-believers to “meet” Jesus in a completely loving way.  Today, perhaps more than ever, this is an especially important part of being a Christian.  Doing good works for others may give you the opportunity to share the gospel with someone who is untrusting or dissatisfied with religion.  Showing that you truly care opens their hearts to hearing the truth.  By investing in others, you are potentially growing the Kingdom.

Encourage Believers
Hebrews 10:24 tells us that we are to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”  Another reason for works is to encourage fellow believers.  By raking the leaves of an elderly widow, bringing dinner to a grieving family, watching a sick friend’s children…by doing this things you are reminding them in a tangible way that Jesus is with them.  While it may be your body that is doing these works , it is Jesus within you that spurs you to compassion, to put love in action.

Future Reward
In 1 Timothy 6, Paul is telling better to instruct the believers to do good works. “Command them do do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share” (1 Tim 6:18). Paul continues that good works are important because in doing them they are laying up “treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age” (1 Tim 6:19).

A by-product of good works is a future, heavenly reward. Luke 6:35 says, “Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”   In Mark 9:41, we are told that if we give “a cup of water in (Jesus’) name” because we “belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.”  Matthew 6 also tells us that we will receive rewards for giving to the needy, praying for others, and fasting.  These treasures will be bestowed in heaven.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I’ve Been Reading

I have been a reading machine lately.  I guess that is what happens when you finish the term up a week ahead of schedule. So instead of just a one week Fall Break, mine is two!  Yeah for me!! 

One of my 100x40 goals is to read 100 books.  Here’s my progress so far:

  1. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien – Started way before my birthday, but finished after. So it counts.  At first I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it, but I did.  It is interesting to pick up little bits of things that go along with LOTR.  I still have no idea how they plan on stretching this book into three movies.  But the first trailer looks pretty good.
  2. Seven by Jen Hatmaker – You’ll be hearing more about this one. A lot more.
  3. My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife by Sara Horn – I liked it in that, to me, it read like a novel. I didn’t like it in that I was expecting it to be more of a “How to Be" book.  But it was interesting to look someone else’s take on the whole Proverbs 31 girl.
  4. Almost Amish by Nancy Sleeth - Let me tell you a little bit about that last one.  Don’t you just love this cover??  It just screams, “Pick me up and read me!”

almost amish

Almost Amish is the true-story of how one Christian family took inspiration from how the Amish community lives and applied these principles in their own family. This book covers everything from technology and family to money and faith.  Nancy Sleeth shares how her family adopted practices from the Amish into their modern, “English” lives.

The main idea behind the book was Nancy’s quest for a simpler, slower life.  This led the family to downsizing their home, planting a garden, buying locally, and embracing their community.  There wasn’t one thing that I didn’t like about this book.  It actually left me wanting to be Nancy’s neighbor. 

I want to fully embrace the principles in this book.  While reading, my mind often wandered to the life I had dreamed about for myself in high school.   What I once wanted and what I now want are two completely different lives.  I once wanted a busy, glamorous life.  Now I crave an Almost Amish life.  17-year-old me never would have dreamed that I would be canning homegrown food in my 30s.  Especially not when I should have been racing with my briefcase to my next meeting on Capitol Hill.  High school me would never believe that my first sewing project was a quilt that I completed all by myself.  Not only that, but I want to learn to make actual clothes. 

Almost Amish is not about trading in your SUV for a horse and buggy (although with these gas prices, one might consider it).  It is not about unplugging completely from the grid.  It is about balancing our dependency on technology so we can engage more fully with our families and communities.  It is about taking better care of our environment.  It is about putting God in the center of our world and putting our faith into everything we do.  I encourage you to read it.  It will make you think and question and, quite possible, make some changes in the way you live.

(Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.)