Last night I had the task of trying to tackle the theme of 'Faith vs. Works' in the course of a 7-10 minute sermon. Not an easy challenge. Growing up in a staunch Conservative Evangelical home, my background immediately tells me that it is by faith that we are saved and that works has nothing to do with our salvation. I would quickly quote Ephesians 2:8-9 and not think twice about our actions.
I'm not that guy anymore though. While I definitely agree we are saved by grace, the Bible is full of the beautiful mystery of paradox and tension and the church too quickly dismisses this mystery in an attempt to explain away that which we don't understand. In titling my sermon last night, I simply removed the spaces and the '&' from 'Faith & Works'. We need to see the two as one and the same. As my friend Zach says, "Faith is a way of life that we live into." Faith isn't just a set of beliefs or presumptions that we hold...it is an entire way of living and breathing and having our being. As The Message paraphrases James 2:20, "Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands?" The idea of separating the two is "outrageous nonsense."
Christ calls us to far more than than a life of charity. Christ calls us to a life of compassion. Christ is looking for a holistic approach to life and faith where everything we belief has everything to do with the way we live our lives. May we be people who are perfectly comfortable living in the mystery of Christ. May we embrace the tension and paradox of a life of faith and realize it can't be separated from the life lived out. May our heart slowly become one with the strong, yet broken, heart of God.