Are You Different Now From A Year Ago?
Are You Different Now From A Year Ago?
When it comes to the Tower of Terror at Disneyland, I’ve discovered there are two groups of people. One group of people jumps right on without thinking about it. They just have faith that it will be safe. Like my oldest daughter Talia. She didn’t think twice. She jumped right on when she met the height requirement at 7 years old, and she loved every second of it.
There’s another group of people who refuse to go on it. Like my youngest daughter Kaira. When she was 9, her older sister tried to convince her to go on it with the rest of the family.
“Doesn’t it look like fun?” … “Yeah.”
“So you’ll come with us?” … “No.”
“It’s perfectly safe! Nothing’s going to happen to you! You know that, right?” … “Yeah.”
“So you’ll come?” … “No.”
And she never did! Kaira has faith in the engineers who built the Tower of Terror, and the ride operators who run the Tower of Terror, and the maintenance workers who maintain the Tower of Terror. But all that faith still won’t get her on the Tower of Terror!
Her faith is useless. And James would say there are many Christians who are the same:
Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith by my works. You believe that God is one. Good! Even the demons believe — and they shudder. Senseless person! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless? (James 2:18-20).
Demons are fallen angels. They lived with God for a long time. They know way more about God than you do. They know a lot more theology than you do. But that doesn’t mean they’ll be walking on streets of gold with you in heaven. Demons have faith, but it doesn’t make any difference in their lives. Because their faith hasn’t traveled from their heads to their hearts.
If you send a demon to seminary? Have him take some theology classes? He’ll crush it! He’ll graduate summa cum laude! But then, James says, he’ll shudder. Because he understands down deep that knowing the word of God won’t help you avoid the wrath of God.
And James is saying there are some people who call themselves Christians who should be shuddering like the demons. There are some people who know the Scriptures inside and out. Who’ve done dozens of Bible studies. Maybe even taken theology classes. And that hasn’t really made a difference in the way they live their life.
You might believe all the right things, but it’s so easy for those truths to get stuck somewhere on the journey from your head to your heart to your hands.
What does James say? “Senseless person!” Literally in the Greek, “empty person.” You think you’re full of knowledge, but unfortunately, you’re empty. “Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless?” You can have all the faith in the world, but if that faith doesn’t move you to action? If it doesn’t cause real, tangible change in your life? Then that faith isn’t doing anything for you. It’s useless.
Here’s how to know if your faith is useless. Just ask yourself one question: Am I different now than I was a year ago?
Do I see noticeable changes in my attitude? My level of joy? My feeling of peace? Do I see any change in my love for others? My willingness to sacrifice for others? Am I different now than I was a year ago?
If you prayerfully meditate on that question and find the answer is no, the next question to ask is, “Why?” The demons know all about God’s character, they just don’t like it. They know every part of God’s law, they just don’t want to follow it. That’s why their faith is useless.
So if you want your faith to go from empty and useless to rich and transformational, start by asking yourself what aspect of God’s nature or behavior you like the least, and what part of his command you least want to follow. That’s probably the obstacle that’s preventing God’s truth from traveling from your head to your heart and hands.
Real faith doesn’t result in perfect people, but it does result in changed people.