After reading and carefully reflecting on the Book of James, I find myself circling around the same question: “Will I take the next step?”
I think a common and widely held misconception of Christians is that people think once we put our faith in Jesus Christ all our problems are suddenly solved, we are immediately better people, and are signed, sealed and delivered. In reality, one moment of faith is just the beginning of a process. That measure of faith we exhibit when we declare, “Jesus is my Lord and Savior,” seems so significant at the time and it is in its own right, but it is merely the first step on a path to true and lasting change.
In Luke 9:61 (NIV) it reads, “Lord, I will follow you, but…”
…And there it is. That word that always gets in our way. It hinders, binds and prevents us from taking the call that is beckoning us forward–“but.”
Even if you are not a Christian, I think everyone can agree that actions (in most cases) speak louder than words. Regardless of our status, duration, or devotion as followers of Christ, if we always hold onto our “but’s” (pardon the pun) we will never experience the wondrous abandonment of truly following Christ.
This simple truth applies to so much in life; it is a glaring reality staring us in the face regardless of our beliefs or religion. It is the truth that even the brightest ideas, the most noble motives, the most significant moments of our faith, without action mean nothing… There are examples of this all around us as well as nowhere at all. It reminds us that if a person is ever going to do anything worthwhile, there will be times when he or she has to risk everything and leap headfirst into the dark. This “darkness” is a sea of unknown outcomes, sacrifices, and sometimes painful losses. We are so scared of experiencing these possibilities that we can’t see through the fog of present day trials; we fail to grasp that we may enter into a land of opportunity, reward and blessing on the other side. You may find that soon, the “dark” you thought you plunged into will transform into a brighter light than you have ever seen or experienced.
What if Martin Luther King, Jr. never picked up his pen, John Lennon never learned to play guitar or Benjamin Franklin never flew a kite? Our future is often shaped by the smallest sparks, the smallest decisions and the smallest of accomplishments. The decisions you make in the present will determine the choices you have in the future.
“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”
James 2:26 (NIV)
How significant is this verse in James to you? The comparison he makes with our body and spirit really stresses and warns us how vital–no–how much of a life or death sentence it is to put action to our faith.
For Christians, Jesus demands this unrestrained, adventurous spirit in placing our trust in Him. In the spiritual realm, Jesus demands that you risk everything you hold on to or believe through common sense, and leap based on faith in Him alone. This is scary for beings that are so consumed, mesmerized and enslaved by the common sense of this world. The notion that we must leap without knowing where we will land according to our own experiences and 5 senses cripples us with fear. Let me tell you, from experiences past and those to come, once you obey you will immediately find that what He says is as solidly consistent as common sense.
On the basis of our senses, what Jesus requires of you might seem mad. Again and again you will come right up to what Jesus wants, but every time you will turn back at the true point of testing, until you are determined to abandon yourself in total surrender. Whenever that time comes, take the leap. What you will find on the other side will fill your spirit with the amazing truth that you acted on the words of God.
Trust in Him, trust in His timing or simply make the determination to trust. Take that step you know you should take but are perhaps too afraid to based on what YOU think might happen. God meets us in those moments of doubt and lifts us up on eagle’s wings and carries us into His invincible future… a future that is brighter than any of us could ever imagine.