In his book, The Externally Focused Church, Eric Swanson reflects on how the church in Russia became irrelevant. When the communists took over Russia in 1917, they persecuted the church but did not make Christianity illegal. In their 1918 Constitution they were guaranteed freedoms of religion. But the Constitution also established that only the Soviet Republic could “render material and all other assistance to the workers and poorest peasants.” This effectively made it illegal for Christians to do any good works. And because the church could no longer feed the hungry or take care of the sick or the orphans, within 70 years the church became irrelevant.
There is a stern warning in that for us. Down through history this has been a common form of persecution. Christians have been free to believe whatever they wanted to as long as they didn’t act out on those beliefs. But it doesn’t require a government dictate to capitulate our faith. When we make our faith private, with no external application, we lose our relevance to God.
James said it this way, “What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?” (Verse 14). “But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?” (Verse 20).
In Matthew 5:1 Jesus taught saying, “you are the salt of the earth.” But then He also gave us this warning. “If the salt becomes tasteless, it is good for nothing anymore expect to be thrown out.” (Verse 13). Further, He said that we are to be the light of the world. And He warned of how light is never meant to be hidden from view.
Our works will not save anybody. But our works may lead others to the one who does.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, may others see my good works and glorify you.