What is the goal of life, the thing most worth striving for? I strive to sit before the throne of God and hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
This doesn’t mean that I have a works mentality. Truthfully, I don’t believe my works will get me to heaven. I believe in my faith will get me to heaven. I’m justified by my faith.
But I believe that the works I perform are the result of the life I try to live every day. You can boil my whole theology down to one concept: discipleship. I try to live the lifestyle of Jesus.
We don’t have to resolve the works/faith “issue,” because when we live the lifestyle of Jesus, there is no issue. That’s what you see in James. He said, “Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:18)
Some people say that James and Paul were having a disagreement, but they weren’t. They were talking about two different things. When Paul said that you aren’t saved by works, he meant that works alone will not get you into heaven. Paul said, “Look, you’re not going to be able to just do good things and expect to get to heaven.” In my belief, that’s true. But James is talking about a whole different idea. James is talking about the believers, the ones that have already given up their souls to God. When James said, “I will show you my faith by my works,” he was talking about the lifestyle that you live when you’re a believer.
Once you confess that Jesus died for your sins, you are saved. But then what? Nothing? Do you say, “Oh, now I can just sit around and do whatever. My salvation is all about grace and I can just live my life however I want to live it.”
Here’s what James and the other disciples said to that: No! They said, “Live like Jesus!” They didn’t say, “Look, I’ve hung out with Jesus! Now I can just sit around and do whatever.”
The proof is in the persecution they endured. Doing whatever they wanted to do is not what got them persecuted. It was their lifestyle – the lifestyle of Jesus – that got them in trouble. It was a lifestyle that got them crucified upside down. It was a lifestyle that got them thrown into prison. It was a lifestyle that got them stoned to death. The apostles were living a lifestyle that shook people up, man. They were going into pagan Greece and pagan Rome. They walked into the temples of a ton of different Gods. They walked into places where people were having orgies. They walked into these places and said, “No! No! This is not the lifestyle you are supposed to be living! It’s unfulfilling.”
The disciples showed us how to live. They challenged people’s worldviews. That was their lifestyle. And that’s what James is saying. Show me a believer that lives the lifestyle of Jesus. That’s Christianity. But what if you show me a lifestyle that is without works, a lifestyle where you don’t do anything? What is that?
You say you have faith. Let’s see it!
See you Thursday.