Trail of Evidence

You’ve heard the old faith-related question, haven’t you? “If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict?” Showed up sometime in the 80’s. Morphed into a bumper sticker and a sermon topic. Don’t know if it ever became a bracelet.

Haven’t seen the question around much lately. I could insert a snide comment or two about how I haven’t seen a whole lot of evidence from many so-called Christians, either, but that might rile folks up with the flavor of “judgment,” so I’ll focus on me and you can apply however you wish.

One of the great church debates is faith vs. works. Is faith all that’s required to be a Christian (useful for  death-bed conversions) or do works have to be daily and obvious (like volunteering at a soup kitchen while knitting caps for orphans) to count as salvation? The question bothered the first believers because it pops up time and again in the New Testament.

Annoying to the logical among us, the answer seems to be “yes.” Faith is all that’s required, but works are a symptom of faith. “No works” can equal “no faith.” The deathbed conversion is the possible exception.

The book of James is our pastor’s inspirational topic this quarter. James has a lot to say about faith and works. Yesterday, we focused on chapter 2, verses 14-20. The last part really got to me.

“Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” James 2:19, NIV

About six years ago, God made me look at my life. He showed me my faith was dead, because I didn’t back up my beliefs with action. I didn’t talk about Him. I didn’t do anything to help the widow, the orphan, the prisoner, the homeless. My checkbook showed my devotion to Hollywood and gardening more than God. Basically, He smacked me upside the head.

Being God, He was right. Works don’t earn my place in heaven, but works do illustrate the depth of my conviction. Jesus says more than once to love Him is to obey Him and do what He does.

With God’s help, I’ve taken steps to rearrange my priorities. To put my money where my heart should be. To put my efforts into opportunities as God presents them. To focus my time where He would want it to go.

Following Christ is a daily event, not a check box. Some days I follow more closely than others. I feel like I fail more than I succeed. That’s where faith comes in. My perfect Savior covers my numerous imperfections. He did what I can’t. Doesn’t mean I can’t try. It is in striving we succeed. Pretty sure I read that on a bumper sticker, too.

Pastor’s final point was this.

According to James, and said first by Jesus in Matt 25: 31 et al, faith always produces fruit. I say I follow Christ. You should be able to see it in my life. If you don’t, you have every right to question the sincerity of my belief.

With God’s help, I’m laying out my trail of evidence. How about you?

About Robynn Tolbert

Born in Kansas and born again at age six, Robynn has published two novels and started her third. Robynn, aka Ranunculus Turtle, lives in Kansas with a clowder of cats, a patient dog and a garden.

11 comments on “Trail of Evidence

  1. I’m afraid I would come up short, Princess Turtle…as many of us will at varying degrees throughout our lives. There is ALWAYS an opportunity available to do for HIS glory. Yet, we overlook (ignore) the conviction upon our hearts, often allowing the world to dictate our priorities. Thank you for reminding me today that I was saved for good works and not by them. 😀

  2. The flip side of this is lack of balance on the works side. I got so busy in church ministries, I neglected my responsibilities to my husband and children. That’s probably a natural response in a church where people are pushed to do more, more, more. It becomes an addiction requiring more and more “ministry work” in order to get high. “Working addictively for God is still working addictively, and it is just as damaging as regular work addiction.” – Soul Repair by Jeff VanVonderen, Dale and Juanita Ryan

    • My Dearest Susan,

      I can relate as to how one can get caught-up in this type of thing, but then again these are man’s demands not the Lord’s Listen to the Lord, he will lead you in the right direction. If a ship were sinking and you went to save the people aboard, as a panic driven mob, they would pull you under and kill you. You must help one at a time and get plenty of rest in between. Let others help as well. Then the load is not so heavy. Man tends to find a good working horse and then drain the life out of him with over work. Your Lord is smarter than that! Work smarter not harder.

    • Susan, that’s a whole other set of blog posts! Good point.

  3. Well put, Robynn. My husband and I have had this discussion many times. I totally believe that faith produces fruit–some days more than others as you and Diane said. It’s a constant struggle, but oh how rich the fruit when our faith shines through! Have a great day!

  4. My Dearest Turtle,

    Great post, thank you for the reminder.

  5. I agree that works/action is the natural outcome of faith. If you don’t ACT like Christ (or at least try hard), how can you truly say that you have faith in Him? Even the devil believes in Jesus.

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