Go Do Good
What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? (James 2:14, NASB)
There’s a difference between belief and knowing. That difference is at the core of this Bible quote, and it was a common theme for Jesus. We’ve talked about this before, too. The difference is action. Belief is wonderful, but it’s only the beginning of the journey. We can believe all kinds of things, and not have them make any particular impact on our lives. But when we know something, that heart connection pulls us into action and changes our experience.
When you’re in love, you know it, independent of (and sometimes in spite of) material data and temporal facts. Love isn’t something that can be proven with an equation. Love can only be known and experienced. They call it falling in love because when you’re in love you move under mysterious steam. Love reminds us that we are neither the source nor the destination. At the same time, love puts us into a different kind of sync with the universe; every song on the radio is a reminder, and every moment is a call to action.
You are allowed to live life on those terms. You are allowed to be in love with your life. The formula is straightforward: start with what you know, and let that knowing overflow into action. Repeat as necessary.
Sometimes people come to church in order to get more faith. I admire the sentiment, but that’s not how faith works. Faith is a spiritual faculty. Like every aspect of Spirit, it is wholly and completely and in every other way right here. God is everywhere; we live and move and have our being in God. If we dwell in Omnipresence, where should we go to “get” more God? Trying to give a person more faith is like trying to give a fish more of the ocean.
This is also why we don’t talk about “sending” our blessings, prayers, or love to another person. I can’t send you my good thoughts. To and from where would I send them? In fact, if life is consciousness, implying distance and duality where there is none actually does more harm than good. I can’t send you blessings, because that implies that there’s a finite amount of them, that there’s distance between you and I (and God), and that somehow I have more of the good stuff than you do. None of those things are true, of course, but thinking and acting as though they are limits my ability to do the thing I set out to do in the first place. Let’s not send our love to people. Let’s just love them. The idea that folks can shoot blessings and prayers out like some kind of ray gun, or that faith and healing float around like some kind of cosmic oil slick, is often what keeps people from a genuine experience of the miracles that are happening all around them.
You and I already have plenty of faith. We have all there is. Every moment is an expression of faith, just as we read in 2 Corinthians 5:7. The question is not “how do we get more faith,” it’s “what am I doing with the faith that I have?” Faith isn’t a commodity that we get or give. Faith isn’t a currency we exchange for miracles. Instead, the miracle happens when barriers are broken down and there’s a personal experience of God in action.
The goal is to move past dualism. If you want love, be more loving. If you want to prosper, find ways to be more giving. If you want a miracle, figure out what a miracle would look like in your life, right here and now, and be that. It works, in other words, when you work it. It doesn’t make sense to wait for God. God is here already, waiting for us. The attitude of waiting is keeping us from our good, and the weight of waiting is where frustration comes from.
This might be a new idea. Maybe somebody told you that faith is what happens when we give up. Maybe somebody told you that faith is an a anesthetic that makes a miserable world a little more bearable. That’s not what the Bible says, of course. For now, though, let’s just check in with our hearts about that. Just for a moment, think about the last time you felt hopeless. Think of the last time you felt that life was rough. Now remember the last time you just knew something was going to work out, or that there was something so important that it had to be done, or that something bigger than you was present. Which of those feelings feels more like faith to you? Faith is a power that moves. If you want miracles, resolve to be moved.
Jesus, as you know, was pro-engagement. We know that by the example He set, and we know it by His words. Over and over again, Jesus reminds us that God is right here (Luke 17:20-21), that we’re all in this together (Matthew 6:9), that we don’t have to wait for God to show up (Luke 23:43). At Lazarus’ tomb, Jesus reminds us that God is always listening (John 11:41-42). This idea is at the core of His ministry, so these kinds of quotes aren’t hard to find.
The Fullness and All-ness of God is right here and right now, never for a moment separate from His creation. That means no more waiting, as we’ve discussed. It also means that there will never be any more God, or love, or miracles anywhere than there are right here and now. God’s already here. And that means miracles aren’t about acquisition. Miracles are about acceptance. I love the attitude behind the “Expect a Miracle” bumper stickers I see from time to time, but given what we’ve talked about that statement is a little like saying “Expect Gravity.” Expectation implies distance and time. I’d rather see a sticker with “Accept a Miracle” written on it, because that’s how this works. Something amazing happens when we agree with God and then take action. Accept the miracle of this moment, and be part of that miracle outpicturing in your world.