This week at Avalon we are on Week 6 of the Faith/Works series, covering James 2:14-26. I loved Pastor Matt’s illustration of the avocado and the walnut trees. What a wonderful visual of how our works should be a display of the faith we say we have. If you missed it, you should check it out here.
“The fruit of real faith is good works.”Matt Bruce
I wrote down his explanation of the difference between Paul’s and James’s views of faith. It isn’t that Paul says works don’t matter; they do. And James is not saying that we are saved by works; we aren’t. But Paul was arguing for the priority of faith. It is faith in Jesus that saves us, but there should be obedience that comes from that faith (Romans 1:5, 16:26). And James is arguing for proof of faith. There should be evidence in our lives that we believe.
Here is how another way of looking at it. In knitting there are two main types of stitches — knit and purl. Knit stitches make pretty V’s that interlock with one another (the picture on the left), and purl stitches have bumps (the picture on the right).
Those pictures are of the same hat from different sides. This is possible because the stitches are the reverse of each other. When you make a knit stitch, the back of it is a purl stitch. And when you make a purl stitch, the back of it is a knit stitch. You cannot make a knit stitch without creating a purl stitch on the other side. The bumps are where the V’s interlock. They are inseparable. If you try to make knit stitches without purls or purl stitches without knits, you just have a pile of string. In the same way, faith and works should be so entangled in our lives that we cannot separate them. We should not be able to have one without the other. They should just be different sides of the same thing.
“Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching….Anyone who does not love me will not obey my my teaching.”Jesus — John 14:23-24
Proof that we have faith, that we love Jesus, is that we are obedient to his teaching. Obedient in the places to which he has called us. Obedient to persevere with joy. Obedient to resist temptation. Obedient to love others. Obedient to be more merciful and less judgmental.
How is God asking you to be obedient today? Praying that your faith will be visible to those around you this week. And here is a fun song to help you remember to be an avocado tree instead of a walnut tree.