By the age of seven I was pretty good at Sunday School. I was getting lots of questions right and had mastered the dance moves to the songs. When I was nine I had memorised lots of bible stories. By the time I was fourteen I was well-skilled at the annual youth camp – the raising of the hands and the floods of tears, accurately timed to the climax of the worship anthem.
But when I reached sixteen, I started to wonder if there was more to this Christian life. I started to become aware of the world around me, and the responsibility that I had for the society in which I lived. An awareness of global crises, war, and inequality gradually grew, and I wondered if the gospel of Christ had anything to say about it. Was Jesus a cuddly fairy tale? Or was he the coming King of the world? It was at that time that I started to have faith that Jesus wants more from me than knowledge and emotion. He wants action.
Imagine a child with her arms open before her father. Facing away, she is challenged to fall back into her father’s arms. ‘I believe you will catch me, dad! I just don’t want to fall’. Can the child really prove her trust, without obeying her father’s command? It is really faith at all, if she doesn’t act on it? As James writes, faith without action is dead, and as I grew into the belief that Jesus wants to bring his kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven, I realised that we, the church, have a responsibility to act accordingly.
If we really believe in Christ’s sovereignty, then what can we do but love the world as he commanded us to? If we are not loving the world, do we really believe that Christ is sovereign?
So how should you love the world? Which action should you take? Just like there are different body parts, there are many different roles within the church. If you’ve ever been to the exhibition space at a major Christian conference, you’ll know that there’s an ocean of organisations eager to sign you up for their mission, and it’s easy to end up feeling drowned with options.
If you ever feel your head going under, remember this: Jesus’ summary of the law is to love God and love your neighbour. By saying this He encourages us to focus our vision on our immediate world. What can you do to help your neighbour? What options are on your doorstep? I am far from an expert on food waste, but I have been generously afforded the opportunity to learn about it and act upon it, and so I will do so with all my might. What resources do you have right now to see a change in your world? What can you do today to show your faith in Jesus’ command, ‘love your neighbour’?
Read more from Stephen by going to the Faith in Action Blog on the SCM website.