Today's Reading: James 1-5
Do you remember learning to ride a bike? Going from a tricycle to a bicycle usually is helped by some "training wheels." I was one of those people who never had the luxury of the two mini wheels on the back of my bicycle's rear tire. I have skinned knee scars to prove it.
The dialogue of faith and works is one in constant tension in the scriptures. The story of Abraham and the writings of Paul speak strongly of "faith alone." Martin Luther attacked the church's use of indulgences with the mantra of faith and grace alone, claiming that the work of salvation was totally God's and God's alone. In his fervent belief in this, he looked at the letter of James and called it "straw." He said James' emphasis on works was heretical and wanted it ripped from the canon.
At the same time, whenever Jesus speaks about the final judgment, he speaks strongly of sheep and goats--those who do good works and those who do not.
Just as it takes effort and practice to learn to ride a two wheel bike, it takes effort and practice to gain wisdom in the practice of discipleship. Faith and works must together become balanced.
Evangelism without caring for needs is empty. Philanthropy without sharing the gospel is vanity.
Usually, most disciples prefer one "wheel" over the other. Some want to ride the unicycle of only belief in Christ. Others want to ride the unicycle of only meeting needs.
It is very hard to ride a unicycle a long distance into the future.
The balance of the bicycle speeds us forward on the path of life.