Friday, January 14, 2011


Useless at the momentphoto © 2009 Quinn Dombrowski | more info (via: Wylio)
This wasn't the post that I had intended to write today. I've been trying very hard to stay ahead of my writing here so I have more time to edit and polish and all of those good things that your writing teachers tell you to do.

But I read something yesterday that has wormed its way into my brain and I feel like if I don't write about it, I'm going to explode. So. Here we go.

I saw a comment yesterday on another blog post that really bothered me. Quoting another person, one commenter wrote (speaking about faith without works): 
I am not saying that we never sin. But sin, according to the book of 1 John, can no longer be habitual. We, now, are able to forgive and love the unlovable. If this isn’t evident in your life or mine, we cannot be fooled. We have not been converted. We have a faith that is without works and is dead. It is not enough to say we believe in God. There must be a new nature. It is like having a tree fully decorated but not plugged in. It is worthless and will be discarded and overlooked. Useless.
The last bit of that just rips at my heart. Useless. What an ugly word.

I think what bothers me about this is that the whole "faith without works" thing is pretty open to interpretation. How many works? What if you're one of the most generous people with your time and your money, but you can't help passing on the juicy story you heard about so and so? What if you can preach up a sermon that leads hundreds to Christ and live righteously, but drive a car that is way beyond what you need to get you from point A to point B? What if you exemplify the quiet and gentle spirit, but never met a carton of Ben & Jerry's you didn't love? 

And what if you don't really think that what you're doing is bad? What if you've examined the Scriptures and simply don't find what you believe is compelling evidence that proves you're sinning? 

Does all of that nullify someone's faith? Make it useless?

I don't think I believe that.

Look at someone like Rahab. She was the prostitute who took the Israelite spies into her home and then protected them. There's nothing in the Scripture that ever indicates that she ceased being a prostitute. Yet in Hebrews 11:31, she is praised specifically because of her faith. Despite doing something that seems pretty obviously sinful, her faith is not considered dead or useless. Rather, it is considered something to be emulated. Purposeful. Useful.

I'm thinking that if the Bible lauds the faith of an unrepentant whore, perhaps I don't need to be too quick to call the faith of others useless. 

And maybe my own stumbling, bumbling, sometimes-barely-there faith isn't useless either.


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