Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. (James 2:18)
We, the church of Jesus Christ, were never intended to be solely about “spiritual matters.” Though we have heard this rhetoric, and it kept us warm through much of the past century, we lost an essential part of ourselves in its telling.
Jesus did care about the soul of a person – but only as a part of the whole person. This is, in fact, an ancient Jewish notion: that the body and soul and spirit (or breath) were always intended to be together. They are inextricably linked. It was the ancient Greek religion that introduced the thought that flesh is evil to the Christian faith. And oh the woes we have caused ourselves ever since.
Our bodies and souls and breath were made by God’s own self to love and be loved. All of it. Every part of us was intended to be good. Though evil may creep into our beings, it usually comes much faster into the soul, where darkness can easily reside without notice for a great long while.
Why does all of this matter?
We are living in a time when we need to reclaim what it means to truly follow Jesus Christ. This occurs not only within our walls as we care for one another and learn and grow and even worship – but just as, if not more, importantly beyond our buildings and campus.
To follow means to care about the whole being of others around us. All others. No exceptions.
To follow means consciously choosing to care when the world casts someone out, decides they are unimportant, or silences them altogether.
To follow means to display Christ’s love in our everyday lives – not just in church on Sunday.
As we head into Labor Day weekend, when we give thanks for the memory of those who fought to see others cared for in our own nation’s history, may we find ourselves once again renewed in our walks of faith to become those who work hard so that all of the people around us will find the wholeness God desires for them.