Saturday, 8 September 2012

Can you be good without God?

Can you be good without God?

I was plagued by this question recently whilst getting 'out and about' in the community in my dog collar. I must have been having a bad week as it seemed to me that there was so much good happening outside the church that I couldn't actually remember what the church was for.

Which is bad, for a Minister.

Sometimes when I'm preparing a sermon I think........why.........? Do people need to be told this stuff again and again over numerous years? Why don't we just go out and do a great big litter pick. Or offer to do people's gardens for free. 

Community groups do so much good without the assistance of the church, no wonder people can't see any relevance in going to church.

It's an old temptation but such a strong one. Turning stones into bread instead of living by the Word. Yes, the living Word might tell you to go out and do someone's garden, but you have to be able to hear the Word in faith first. We separate faith and good works at our peril.

Can you be good without God?

Can you believe without acting?

All good things come from God so we must believe he is the source of everything that is good about community life, regardless of whether it grows out of someone's personal Christian faith or another motivation. I guess it's both possible to be a kind secularist whom God is longing to transform inwardly, and a lazy 'believer' whom God is wishing would get off their backside and go and do something useful.

I'm still pondering these things, not least as we're on the second week of James in the Sunday Lectionary; this week I'm preaching on 'faith without works is dead' (Chapter 2:17).

I conclude that we'd better not separate faith and good works; keeping them together could result in people actually sitting up and noticing God With Us for the first time.

What a thought.

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