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Let’s put actions to our words

By Kenya Smith

It seems like tragedies are happening a lot lately.

People in the Gulf States and the Caribbean are now recovering from hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. The nation of Mexico is also recovering after deadly earthquakes ravaged its towns and cities.

Many of us awoke to the news Monday of the mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas on Sunday night. At least 59 people were killed and more than 500 were injured, making it the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Whenever a tragedy happens, many express their thoughts and prayers for the victims. As a response to those expressions, others have said that sending thoughts and prayers is not enough.

In fact, the Bible tells us our thoughts and prayers aren’t enough without action. In James 2:14-15, the writer gives us a scenario:

“Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about your faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, ‘Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!’ and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup — where does that get you?  Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?” (MSG)

In Christianity, good works are not requirements for salvation. We cannot earn God’s grace, mercy and salvation through good works. Instead, good works are ways that others can see that our faith in Christ is the real deal. We wouldn’t waste our time attacking each other if we learned how to blend our actions with our faith.

In his book “Jesus > Religion,” Jefferson Bethke writes, “We claim Jesus is our homeboy, but sometimes we look like the people Jesus railed against. The same scathing indictments Jesus brought against the religious leaders of his day — the scribes and Pharisees — he could bring down on many of America’s Christian leaders. No wonder the world hates us.

“Most of the time we’re persecuted not because we love Jesus, but because we’re prideful, arrogant jerks who don’t love the real Jesus. We’re often judgmental, hypocritical, and legalistic, while claiming to follow a Jesus who is forgiving, authentic, and loving. Sometimes people will hate us because we preached the same gospel Jesus preached, and sometimes people will hate us because we’re jerks. Let’s not do the second and blame the first.”

Let us continue to send our thoughts and prayers to the victims of tragedies, but as God has given us a mind, heart, and soul, let us examine ourselves and think of ways to help those who are hurting and suffering.

Kenya Smith is a Suffolk native and graduate of Regent University. Email her at s.kenya43@yahoo.com.