Bible Verse: “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” (James 2:26)

Scripture Reading: James 2:14-26

James offers a pointed reminder that faith without action is as dead as the body without spirit. The prophets and Jesus issue the same dynamic challenge: Do justice, show mercy, practise faithfulness, and demonstrate love as you humbly walk with God in fellowship with your neighbours. These biblical basics mean that we are called to affirm human dignity, build community, advocate justice and equity, and practice compassion and solidarity. Doing so includes a civic obligation to help develop laws and public policies that make for an inclusive understanding of citizenship and a non-discriminatory politics – a politics of justice that advances the common good, protects the well-being of all people, and respects the good creation.

Indeed, we have a shared responsibility. We must work together in order to make a decisive difference for the common good. That is not to say we must all adopt the same strategy. Each of us personally and each of our societal institutions have their own different obligations, opportunities and respective areas of responsibility.

How ought Christians to contribute to this joint process? Clearly we may not spiritualize the Good News or privatize the biblical faith. We may not compromise the Gospel by compartmentalizing spirituality and thus secularizing politics. Nor may we give in to the deceptive forces of our consumerist culture that relentlessly push a laissez-faire mentality and promote a hedonistic materialism. We may not succumb to ideologies that ignore the fundamental needs and human rights of millions of people, who, like us, are created in God’s image and entitled to a humane way of life.

Instead, our daily discipleship should be pursued in the context of faithful communities that promote careful stewardship and responsible citizenship. Our everyday living can contribute to an integrated way of life – a coherent lifestyle that practices mutual respect and mutual responsibility based on human dignity and equal justice for all, so that no one falls between the cracks. Indeed, the biblical imperative of neighbourly love and integral living does not allow us to arbitrarily divide life into false dilemmas, such as church versus world, faith versus works, individual versus communal, fiscal deficit versus human dignity, economic versus social, or material versus spiritual. Rather, it calls us to develop a more integral view-and-way of life that affirms all the vital aspects of human life at all stages of development. An integral view considers life a seamless garment. It practices a consistent life-ethic, also in law and public policy. And it promotes a walk of life that reflects the comprehensive meaning of loving our neighbours as ourselves, especially neighbours who are poor and powerless.

May all of us take the Apostle Paul’s challenge to Timothy to heart and “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11). Then, in the exercise of our citizenship and other daily responsibilities we, in community, will be seen “to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share.” (6:18)

— Gerald Vandezande in Justice, Not Just Us
© Public Justice Resource Centre, 1999.


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