This part of James’ letter is familiar to most churchgoers. Faith without works is nothing.
Times were hard for James’ audience as both State and Religion tried desperately to squelch the new Church. Times are hard now for most people as COVIC-19 wreaks havoc on the health of people and the economies of nations.
Words mean little in times of chaos unless actions follow. There is plenty of negative news right now, but there is also a resurgence of the Church acting as it was meant to act. Churches aren’t meeting in person, but they are in communities, serving those in need through food delivery, supporting healthcare workers, sharing resources, using their connections to provide water, and encouraging believers to worship together virtually. The Church has shifted to the hospital for hurting people as it was intended to be.
Not all local congregations or pastors are living out their faith, but many are. They are making sure their communities are warmed and filled (James 2:16) while they live out the commandment to make disciples. New believers and those who have been part of the body are working together, putting concrete actions to what they say they believe.
Faith without corroborating actions as evidence is not saving faith. Faith is inextricably intertwined with the work of the Church. Anyone who is not part of the work in caring for the needs of others attends church like it’s just another social club. With social distancing as a reality, it is apparent who approaches faith as one side of the salvation coin.
Working out faith does not mean violating recommendations or orders to isolate physically. Action takes many forms, not all of them requiring personal contact. Look around at the needs of others and use your resources to fill the needs and encourage those who have no choice but to be vulnerable (e.g. health care workers, food preparers). Encourage one another through letters, cards, and calls. Learn how to walk out your belief now, and then keep working after this crisis is over. Show your faith BY your work, both now and in the future.