a passive faith is not enough

Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and by works faith was brought to completion. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.

James 2:21-24; NRSVUE

I would like to emphasize to the utmost degree that a passive faith is not enough. It might be a good start, but if there’s no finish, there’s no faith at all, or that’s what James seems to be saying. The story of Abraham here which he cites is about Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac on the altar. At least Abraham acted in faith in doing that, although his act would have been better if he would have interceded before God beforehand so that he would not have actually come right up to the point of doing it. They could have had a ram before this was even made known to Isaac. (see J. Richard Middleton).

Forget it if you think that simply believing something you read or hear read from the Bible or about Christ is enough. It’s not. It might seem life giving, life changing at first, but unless you act on it, it won’t be. Hopefully if we’re failing to act on it, seeds are planted in our hearts to bear fruit later, but the fruit will be actions corresponding to what has been heard. And we must keep doing that. It’s not enough to read and appreciate it. And this is a good place to start:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30; NRSVUE

Christ’s invitation is wonderful to hear and dwell on. But that’s not enough! We must accept it. And we must keep coming back to him again and again. As we do, that faith will be met.

What’s true here is true everywhere. Faith without a response that results in works and life change is no faith at all. Whether or not we have faith is the question or not. Yes, Christ is the answer, but we must follow. God is present to help us. In and through Jesus.