Today in the United States we inaugurate a new president. While I pray President Trump leads with wisdom, compassion, and justice, we cannot simply sit back and watch whatever unfolds. We the people have a tremendous responsibility to work together, to speak truth to power, to peacefully advocate for the rights of all beings and the earth. This requires maturity and contemplative consciousness, empathy for the “other,” and courage to stand with those who are suffering. It is not a popular or easy path. But as human beings, we are called to be active participants in our salvation and mutual survival. I hope that by rediscovering the great gifts of Christianity we might live as our whole selves, becoming the united Body of Christ. – Richard Rohr, O.F.M.
I am a big fan of Richard Rohr. His book Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life moved my life needle which, coming from me, is high praise given that I have read a number of books that were supposed to move the needle and few actually do. I also subscribe to Richard’s daily devotional. His devotional this morning opened with what I posted above, a pray for peace, knowledge, compassion and justice on this inauguration day.
What I love most about his words above is this sentence; “But as human beings, we are called to be active participants in our salvation and mutual survival.” Active participants in our salvation. How many of us actually do the heavy lifting of being active participants in our salvation? I think there are far too many people who rely on divine intervention for salvation rather than demonstrating it through their actions and their deeds. Honestly, it’s just easier.
I have a former business associate that spends his days being an absolute prick to anyone that doesn’t benefit him. If he needs something from you he is a snake charmer, but if the tables are turned and you need his help he becomes an A-1 asshole. He reconciles this every night by asking for God’s forgiveness. In his mind, when he wakes up in the morning, his slate is clean. All of his past transgressions have magically gone away. The problem is, the guy he slighted yesterday is still pissed off. But as my associate would tell me, that is the other guy’s problem, not his. He asked for and received God’s forgiveness in his bedtime prayers. The illusion of the magic wand.
“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” – James 2:14-26
I know what the Apostle Paul said, we can’t earn God’s salvation or grace; “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” – Ephesians 2:8. That is the verse everyone plucks out and isolates but they forget the rest; “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”- Ephesians 2:10.
Do good works, participant in your salvation. It will make God’s job easier and the world a nicer, more loving and compassionate place for everyone.