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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Faith and Works (or, if it walks like a duck)

What gets you into Heaven - faith or works?

It's one of the most divisive questions in Christianity, and the Bible's not a lot of help. Some passages say faith, some require works, most notably James' epistle (which Martin Luther seems to have really hated).

I don't see what the problem is. If you have faith, you'll do good stuff. Having faith and forgoing good grunt work isn't possible. It's like a car without wheels. Nice to look at, but not too useful.

But what about the other case? What if you're doing lots of good stuff - like, say, Gandhi - but you don't have a lot of Christina faith?

Jesus seems to address that. He says that if you care for the sick, visit the imprisoned, etc., you're really doing it for Him - as you do it for the least of these, you do it for Me.

And if you're doing it for Him, the de facto truth is that, at some level, you believe in Him.

Whether you want to or not.

The point is that Christianity's not an exclusive club, and Jesus didn't want it to be. Jesus threw out a big net, and it doesn't have a lot of holes in it. He wants everyone, and He's arranged the rules to reel them in.

(Yes, I know the 'if you deny Me before men I'll deny you before the Father' stuff - but the point is that if you are doing His work, even if you don't recognize it, you can't be denying Him at the same time. It's like playing golf and then, when asked, saying that you don't recognize the game...you're just out for a walk in the country, and amusing yourself by hitting a ball with a stick, and trying to knock said ball into little holes that you encounter. It doesn't wash.)

Your turn. Fire away, please.

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