|Photo image courtesy of Denys Smyrnov via 123rf.com|
I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.”
Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.
Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That’s just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do them? Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands?
Wasn’t our ancestor Abraham “made right with God by works” when he placed his son Isaac on the sacrificial altar? Isn’t it obvious that faith and works are yoked partners, that faith expresses itself in works? That the works are “works of faith”? The full meaning of “believe” in the Scripture sentence, “Abraham believed God and was set right with God,” includes his action. It’s that mesh of believing and acting that got Abraham named “God’s friend.” Is it not evident that a person is made right with God not by a barren faith but by faith fruitful in works?
The same with Rahab, the Jericho harlot. Wasn’t her action in hiding God’s spies and helping them escape—that seamless unity of believing and doing—what counted with God? The very moment you separate body and spirit, you end up with a corpse. Separate faith and works and you get the same thing: a corpse.
Forgive me if this sounds crass. But do you ever secretly think you are holier-than-thou because you are parenting a child with special needs?
I don't want to sound terrible, because sometimes managing our own household is all we can handle and all we are called to in certain seasons of our lives. When we face things like a hospitalization, heavy issues at school, working out our own grief, major life transitions or things of this magnitude, our mission field is right there at our child's side and nowhere else.
Other times, we opt out of doing anything beyond serving our own families because we think, "I do enough already." We sometimes think that parenting a child with special needs qualifies us for sainthood, so we do little, if anything, for anyone outside our family. In our minds, we've paid our dues through parenthood. Somehow, we can fall into the trap of thinking that God owes us the chance to merely coast through life, without extending any sort of charity to others because we bear a challenging load.
But what if our faith was BIGGER than that? What if our trust and intimacy with God were SO great that we couldn't help but spill it out onto others? What if our hearts were so at one with the Father that we couldn't help but live out what our lips say we believe?
By now you may have grown tired of hearing me say over the years, "Whether or not you realize it, people are watching you." Still, I cannot stress enough the power of living out our faith in such a way that makes others crave what we have with Christ. Rather than ruminating about how we might find an opportunity to lead another person in praying "the believer's prayer", we should concentrate on that vertical relationship that results in us being a living gospel. Souls are more likely won in the mundane obedience of serving another than they are in a pivotal moment that gains us fame.
In an age of cynicism, talk has become cheaper than cheap. As John Maxwell says, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." In other words, they often want to SEE our faith before they will give any credence to what we say.
As the parent of a child who has a chronic illness or special need, we can certainly reflect God's glory by serving our children. That can be such a beautiful reflection to this hurting world. When we serve our children with joy and love, it confounds the world.
But when we reach even beyond our children to humbly serve another that shouts, MY GOD IS BIG ENOUGH! Whether it be serving as a mentor to another struggling parent or participating in some other obscure act of mercy, this activity is a powerful testimony. Serving the poor, the heartbroken, the orphaned, the marginalized, both locally and abroad, are a natural outpouring of our intimacy with Christ. Our "works" demonstrate that there is no problem that is greater than our God. His word is true. Jesus is our hope beyond hope. And there is no other love in this world like His.
As a bonus, we radiate God's beautiful light in multiple directions when our children see us engage in such works. They learn what selflessness looks like, no matter what their ability level. Seeds of compassion are planted and fostered in their growing hearts. We may not always see or hear this happening, but the Father PROMISES that His word, even as seen through our work, will not return to Him without accomplishing His purposes in our kids.
The next time you feel compelled to tell the world about Jesus, keep your mouth shut. Let your works be the natural outpouring of your relationship with Christ.
PRAY: Lord, draw me so close to You that Your lovingkindness is poured straight through me, not only in how I love or care for my child, but also in how I share tender service and mercy with others.