Thoughts and Prayers
Thoughts and prayers
It's a phrase that has truly lost all meaning in the world in which we live.
I write today to those of us with faith. This phrase is now meaningless. It is time to retire it. It doesn't bring comfort or peace anymore. Instead it just further highlights how disconnected we actually are from the faith we claim to hold so dearly. It brings up anger. People expect to hear that from us. They expect us to say the words and then go on living our lives; to forget about them.
Five hundred years ago we had lost our way. Our religious leaders had embraced a theology that told us we needed certain acts and prayers to be truly saved. We were wrong. It took an ex priest named Martin Luther and his 95 theses nailed on a church door to remind us that is by grace alone we are saved so that none of us could boast. There is nothing we could do to guarantee the grace and love from our Savior. We needed that reminder.
But it's five hundred years later and I think the American church needs another reminder. We're swinging too far in the other direction We have tipped the scales over to faith and left our good works woefully depleted. We have forgotten the words of James. Read them again. Does this sound like your church? I hope not.
"What good is it, dear brothers and sisters if you say you have faith, but don't show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing and you say 'Goodbye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well'- but then you don't give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn't enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. -James 2:4-7
Useless. Our faith is useless unless it promotes good deeds. When tragedy strikes thoughts and prayers are not enough. That's not me saying that. That's our Scripture saying that. The thing we say is God breathed and inspired. God is telling us that. Prayers are not enough. They are a part of the puzzle yes but they do not act alone. They cannot act alone. If we are followers of Christ we are students of what they call in improv comedy the "yes and" approach. We don't just agree with the story being told we add on to it.
When tragedy strikes, which seems to happen with increasing frequency lately, our thoughts and prayers should be the propeller that drives us to action. Our thoughts and prayers are the feet that carry us to where there is need with our hands out saying "What can I do to help? Here I am. Send me."
It's time to stop saying my thoughts and prayers are with you. Don't send your thoughts and prayers. Send yourself. You are the temple of the Holy Spirit. When you go you bring the power of that spirit with you. And then we will truly begin to emulate Jesus. He operated in the "yes and" in every moment of his life on earth. He asks us to do the same.
Come out of the prayer closet. We have work to do. I intend to have faith that is useful not useless. In order to do that I have to get to work. And so do you. The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Get in the fields and lets go.