I have always been amazed from childhood through adulthood with the Solar System designed by our Creator. No matter what I think, say or do, have an opinion about or feel in my heart, the earth will continue to travel around the sun while I sleep. This will happen without my control, while I am asleep during the night. In the darkness, my part of the earth is turned from the sun in its orbit around the sun. The sun is at the center. In a matter of hours, my part of the earth will face the sun once more and light will cover my part of the earth. God created the heavens to work in this way, perfectly and systematically. Don’t you love a good plan that works?
Weather is created by this perfectly designed system, too. All weather, which is reported on hourly, whether we understand it or not, is designed by God who created all things to accomplish His good and perfect will. Everything was created for us to enjoy and manage without the responsibilities of being the Creator. But sometimes we are tempted to think we are as good as our Creator and can do what He can do so we try to take control. How foolish is this? Maybe we need to revisit the basics.
We humans were created to worship our Creator. We were created to love Him back AND to love each other with the kind of love He had for us—faithful, unconditional and relentless—by choice. We are not puppets. God created us with unforced, free will to love Him back because that is the best way to love someone. But, being God, our Father and the Origin of our being, He also knew the choices we would make.
God knew we would be easily distracted when tempted with shiny, choice objects of pride, importance, arrogance with thinking more highly of ourselves. His first humans fell for it. Admit it, at times we, the created, think our ideas and ways of managing life are much better than The Creator. We are ludicrous to think that we know more that the One who brough all into existence with mere words spoken! But we are that foolish at times. The Creator of humans also knew that we would be ashamed by our human condition of self and sin, when life as we controlled it, would all fall apart, and we would need a Way, a bailout, to find our way back to Him.
Because His thinking is beyond all He created; He also designed The Perfect Plan for all humans to solve our own created problems of sin and resulting death from a place of Love that the world had never known and didn’t expect. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Jesus, God Son, was the Word of God who came from God to earth and moved into the neighborhood of humans. (See John 1).
However, there was one created and who formed an army of demons who directly opposed God and His Plan. The Tempter is the enemy of God, a fallen angel of self-importance who thinks the opposite of all that is God. This self-proclaimed enemy of God was thrown out of the heavens before we were created as humans. He was and is revengeful, full of hate, and ready to do battle with all that is connected and consumed by God. His goal of revenge against God is to consume us with hate, pride, self, envy—all that is not God—that will lead to our separation from God resulting in death forever.
The Enemy works harder than we do to tear down the faith we say we have by tempting us to do nothing about our faith! “Be complacent, have it your way, you need to rest, you deserve it all, they don’t need you to tell of Jesus, let people find out on their own like you did. The sick, jobless, hopeless and jailed can find their own way out of their predicaments—that’s not your problem.” These thoughts are sponsored and planted in our minds compliments of our enemy to deactivate our faith.
We’re in good company, though. The enemy of God tried to tempt Jesus, God’s Son! The enemy followed God’s Son into the dessert to harass and tempt him while He got alone with God to prepare for his mission to save the world from sin! The enemy failed and did not win with the One and Only who knew no sin. So, the enemy worked double time with all God’s people in charge at the time who had no relationship with God.
The enemy, who has limited power with the same deceitful tools used over and over again, must have had great fun when Jesus was mocked, spit on and harasses by God’s created humans who knew Him not and who nailed him to a cross. The tempter jeered at Jesus, as God’s Son hung there in excruciating pain. using people he had captured and convinced saying, “Come down, enough with this, you have the power to avoid this”—all words from the enemy.
But Jesus, the Perfect Plan created by God, who loved by God in obedience with action, did not budge. Jesus, His Son with “whom His Father was well pleased” stayed and endured it all because of His great love for us, his created. Our sins, created by us, applauded by the enemy, were nailed to the cross that day. All the sins of the world. Once and for all. Paid in full—His life for ours.
Friends, this Love of God to us and in us drives us to love Him back and to love each other like He loves us. This holy relationship with God is what drives our faith in Him to obey Him, to do what HE wants, in Jesus Name, led by His Holy Spirit, all for His glory. When we feel we are better than our Creator—that comes from the Enemy who was kicked out of heaven for wanting to be God himself. Avoid the enemy at all costs for that is the best way to love and please God. “Without faith it is impossible to please God” the writer of Hebrews reminds us. Without an active, alive in Christ, obedience to God; our faith we say we have is dead, like a corpse, James teaches. Yikes.
We must gratefully remember, at the beginning of the light of day, when our part of the earth greets the sun, what it cost Jesus to take our place on the cross, so that our faith, our believing, that He paid our debt of sin in full is cemented into our being. This foundation of faith, this loving God back, because of the work of Jesus, is so we can also be called “friends with God” as Abraham was—all because he believed and then ACTED on his faith in God. THIS is what spurs us to act in faith to God.
James 2, The Message
The Royal Rule of Love
1-4 My dear friends, don’t let public opinion influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith. If a man enters your church wearing an expensive suit, and a street person wearing rags comes in right after him, and you say to the man in the suit, “Sit here, sir; this is the best seat in the house!” and either ignore the street person or say, “Better sit here in the back row,” haven’t you segregated God’s children and proved that you are judges who can’t be trusted?
5-7 Listen, dear friends. Isn’t it clear by now that God operates quite differently? He chose the world’s down-and-out as the kingdom’s first citizens, with full rights and privileges. This kingdom is promised to anyone who loves God. And here you are abusing these same citizens! Isn’t it the high and mighty who exploit you, who use the courts to rob you blind? Aren’t they the ones who scorn the new name—“Christian”—used in your baptisms?
8-11 You do well when you complete the Royal Rule of the Scriptures: “Love others as you love yourself.” But if you play up to these so-called important people, you go against the Rule and stand convicted by it. You can’t pick and choose in these things, specializing in keeping one or two things in God’s law and ignoring others. The same God who said, “Don’t commit adultery,” also said, “Don’t murder.” If you don’t commit adultery but go ahead and murder, do you think your non-adultery will cancel out your murder? No, you’re a murderer, period.
12-13 Talk and act like a person expecting to be judged by the Rule that sets us free. For if you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly. Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time.
Faith in Action
14-17 Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?
18 I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.”
Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.
19-20 Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That’s just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do them? Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands?
21-24 Wasn’t our ancestor Abraham “made right with God by works” when he placed his son Isaac on the sacrificial altar? Isn’t it obvious that faith and works are yoked partners, that faith expresses itself in works? That the works are “works of faith”? The full meaning of “believe” in the Scripture sentence, “Abraham believed God and was set right with God,” includes his action. It’s that weave of believing and acting that got Abraham named “God’s friend.” Is it not evident that a person is made right with God not by a barren faith but by faith fruitful in works?
25-26 The same with Rahab, the Jericho harlot. Wasn’t her action in hiding God’s spies and helping them escape—that seamless unity of believing and doing—what counted with God? The very moment you separate body and spirit, you end up with a corpse. Separate faith and works and you get the same thing: a corpse.
Faith without doing something about it, is not faith at all—a corpse. It begins and ends with the Love of God, done in the Name of Jesus, all for His glory.
You have taught me again the depth of your love with reminding me of the foundation upon which my faith is built. I repent. Forgive me of avoiding the work that comes with my faith. Show me your ways and I will walk in them. I’m listening. I want to please you.
In Jesus Name, Amen.