Faith Without Works is Dead like American Christianity
This past summer the church I attend went over this series of exploring various types of “spiritual disciplines”. I missed some of them, but they touched on some typical stuff. Praying. Reading the Bible. Some in refreshing ways, others pretty boring. In many ways, our church, even in its uniqueness, is a typcal white person church.
Sometimes I ask myself why I go to a church at all and then I remind myself I go for the community and the spiritual family I have there. If it wasn’t for specific people, I wouldn’t be in church at all (they know who they are). But nobody asked me what my favorite spiritual discipline is. It’s not praying. It’s not reading the Bible. I’m about to get really cynical here, but I’m in a bad place right now with my view of humanity, so bear with me. There’s a 5 gallon water jug at church to put loose change in and once a year the change is gathered together with all the other places that gathered loose change and the money all goes to building wells in places where they don’t have clean water. They partake in auctions that raise money for other humanitarian efforts worldwide. Sounds fantastic, right? It’s comfortable though, to throw change in a jug. It’s comfortable to make a quilt if its something you already do for an auction. It’s easy to attend an auction, spend your money for a good cause and eat delicious food. It’s the feel good type of Faith Works. It keeps you comfortable.
This past Sunday, I asked my church during an open mic time to join me in writing letters to leaders of the City of Cleveland and the State of Ohio to ask for justice for Tamir Rice. Only two people came up to me interested in helping. Here we are, an urban Mennonite Church with a side ministry dedicated to helping the children of the neighborhood and city with educational support to help kids succeed and only two people wanted to help me write letters. Racism is in our backyard LITERALLY – here is a chance for every white person in the congregation (all of them) to use their privilege for good for a 12 year old boy who no longer has a voice. But it feels better to drop pennies in a water jug for a far away place.
James 2:15-17 (NASB) If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”
Matthew 5:43-44,46-47 (NASB) “You have heard that it was said ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy’. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you… For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?”
Matthew 25:34-40 (NASB) “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you invited me in; naked, and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you or thirsty and give you something to drink and when did we see you a stranger and invite you in or naked and clothe you? The King will answer and say to them, ‘truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you did it Me.”
I don’t want to call every single person in my congregation a hypocrite. Some ARE providing emotional support, articles, conversation, lending their voice of support for the revolution #BlackLivesMatter But most of them are silent. And its deafening.
And though the majority of white people simply do not understand how different their experiences with police officers differ from black people, I expect people who claim to follow the words of the man I posted above to have better awareness. I am not naïve, however. From my extensive background with fundamental Baptists and an evangelical college, I am well aware of how many Christians believe that saying a prayer for their sins and having intellectual conversations about the meaning of the Bible, dropping change into water jugs, and reading the Bible at home, and praying every day is following Jesus. But here’s a fucking newsflash: IT’S NOT. Christians spend so much focus on events like a virgin birth and death on a cross for significance and skip all the red letters in between. Faith without works is dead. Jesus calls us to reach out to those not in our comfort zone. He calls us to do good deeds to the least of the people on earth because it is the same as doing those good deeds directly to him. DIRECTLY. Black people don’t need white people as a savior, but they need us to walk hand in hand with them and tell our version of Rome that we will not stand for injustice. Samaria Rice doesn’t need a white savior, she just needs us to cry with her. It doesn’t matter what her past is. She is your sister, your neighbor. She is Jesus. But you just go ahead and lecture me after church about how people need to just obey the law as you drop your pennies in the water jug. WHATEVER HELPS YOU SLEEP AT NIGHT, CHRISTIANS.
About Jack LadouskasMy quest in life is to look back at the end of it and accomplish two things: 1) be happy with how I lived it and 2) make a positive impact in the world. This blog is a little slice of both. I hope you enjoy it.
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