Faith In Action
How much faith does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
It's a funny question, really. It doesn't take ANY faith to screw in a light bulb, silly!
Or perhaps it does.
When you change a light bulb, you probably first observe that a lightbulb has reached the end of its life, and trust that a new light bulb will produce light, just the same way that light bulbs always have in the past. You know that if the old bulb were changed with a brand new light bulb, there would again be light. You consider how nice it would be if the room you were sitting in were lit again, and you reminisce on all the well-lit memories you spent in your now dimmed and poorly-lit living area. You know exactly how light is created from a bulb because of all the long hours you spent studying in your Optics class for your Electrical Engineering degree. You recall that the switch on a lamp creates a heated resistance in the filament inside of a bulb, and you remember the zero oxygen atmosphere, replaced by argon and nitrogen inside of the bulb in order to contain the illuminative heat cause by the friction of the filament, which the naked eye then observes as light.
You have an intimate, learned, and tested understanding of the observable illumination that a light bulb gives on a lamp or ceiling fan, and you don't doubt the proven method of light and optics for even a second. You have faith that a new light bulb is exactly what you need to light the room.
You go to sleep that night, deciding to buy a new bulb the next day. You get up, go to work, and perform your daily tasks and duties. When you get home that night, you remember the bulb isn't working and that you forgot to buy a new one, but it's late and time for bed, so you decide to wait until the next day to buy a new bulb. But the same thing happens again a day later. And again. And again. And again. The bulb never gets changed, and there is never light. In fact, you get used to the way things feel in your house without any light. Your eyes and lifestyle start to adjust accordingly so that the dimly lit room could be utilized without properly fixing the problem. Eventually, you don't even realize the bulb is out.
Faith Is An Action
The analogy of the man that needed to change the light bulb can be eye opening. In my own life, I find that I know the right answers, I trust God to work in my life, and I've studied the scriptures intimately for years, which helps me to understand and explain some ideas and concepts within scripture. I have faith in God's ability to bring light to the darkness, and to shine brightly in the darkest places, but sometimes my faith isn't accompanied by any actions. To share from my heart, I often sit mindlessly, keeping the most precious and glorious news in existence all to myself. I know how to make the Light shine! The man knew exactly what he had to do to change the light bulb-- heck, he could have created a new one from scratch! But he lacked one important step; actually changing the light bulb! Sometimes in our own lives, we know that we should be meeting people, sharing our faith, and letting our light shine, but our bulbs are dim, or perhaps have completely burned out. Is it time to replace your light bulb?
It's easy to not share our faith with people. It doesn't require any action! Not doing something is obviously easier and quicker than doing something. But the action of sharing the good news with people is the process that rejuvenates and illuminates our light bulb. In fact, the action of sharing with people is also what brings our faith back to life!
"What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself." James 2:14-17, HCSB
In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself.
This scripture is James is referring to imparting good tidings to a brother or sister in need without actually helping them. If we know people are in need, and we wish the very best for them, and even pray for their well-being, but we don't act, then what use are we anyway? We haven't actually helped them.
As disciples of Jesus, it isn't enough to only know we should share our faith, or to only hope people become Christians. I think every Christian I've ever met agrees that evangelizing, or witnessing, or sharing faith, or preaching, or sharing the Gospel (these are all the same things), are good to do, but far fewer (maybe a terrifyingly low number of people) actually share their faith. This should not be.
When a person makes the decision to follow Jesus, they are also deciding at that moment to commit their lives to loving God and loving people.
To you who are reading this: if you are a Christian, then you have the Holy Spirit inside of you (1 Cor 3:16), a guide into all truth (John 16:13). You have been saved from the domain of darkness (Col 1:13) and have been clothed in Christ himself (Gal 3:27). You have every possible reason and more to open your mouth to others.
Why do we call Matthew 28:18-20 "The Great Commission"?
The first word that Jesus says after stating that every authority in all the world and heaven had been given to him is, "Go and make disciples." This is his charge to Christians everywhere. Two verbs. Go and make. He doesn't tell us to believe as hard as we can, or to read our Bible to learn more about how to make a disciple before we open our mouths. No. He says to "go and make." He didn't tell us to go after we learn how to evangelize. He didn't tell us to go after we feel comfortable, or to wait for the right time. He told us to "go and make."
My challenge to you this week is to create opportunities to meet people and to share your convictions with them. Maybe it won't be easy. Maybe it will stretch your faith and reveal your weaknesses. But the rewards far outweigh every struggle. Go and make, and I think God will surprise you.
This week I was with a friend of mine who is also a Christian. As we were grabbing a drink together, he shared about his friend he has, and the topic of evangelism stole our conversation. My friend expressed to me that he didn't feel like he had the right gifts to convince someone about the truth of God. He felt like he was too passive and not impressive enough to win over another person. I quickly reassured him that everyone is able to share their faith, and that the truth of God speaks for itself.
In the same conversation, I told him we were going to share our faith with the waitress. I volunteered to share with her, to show him that it could be done. As she walked over, I said, "Pregunta... ¿Te gustaría venir a iglesia mañana?" (Question... Would you like to come to church tomorrow?) With a firm and expressionless gaze, she looked at me and said, "No," as she walked away from us. We got our check from another waitress. My friend was shocked! "Can you believe how she responded?" he said. I would be lying if I said I wasn't discouraged, but it was because of her denial of such a precious gift, not as much because of how she responded to me. When we share the the most incredible grace of God with people, they are choosing to accept or deny God. If they are turned off to our invitation or discussion, we shouldn't take any personal offense. It is God who we are presenting to people, not us.
Right after the coffee shop, I asked my friend if we could backtrack a ways to where we got dinner a few hours beforehand. The fellow who served us at dinner seemed like a friendly person, and we both forgot to share our faith with him. We hopped on a train and traveled about 15 minutes back to the restaurant, hoping he was still there. When he was, we said hello again, and told him about our church. He pleasantly welcomed us back and we talked about faith, and meeting in the near future. We all exchanged numbers and were on our way.
There are people out there who are open to discussing faith, religion, and God. When someone tells you, "No," don't be discouraged. Go to the next person, and continue to have faith that your actions please God, and that they bring Light to the world.
Perhaps it is time to change your light bulb. Don't just think about changing it. Change it!
Then go and make.