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I compose and post these articles with only one desire in my heart: to praise God and to offer modest help on your spiritual journey.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

FAITH WITHOUT WORKS

I read an article today that suggest gender equality is coming to
religion. It notes women once largely outnumbering men in church
attendance are becoming less connected to a religion. In other words
women and men are becoming more equal in numbers attending any church.
Not exactly the measure of equality in which I take any comfort. The
article goes on to report young men and women are less attracted to
religion. Spirituality gets more points, but affiliated church
membership is a problem.

In a world of instant news we are bombarded with reports of violence
caused by misdirected youth who find their fulfillment in violence
directed by so called faith. This is the greatest perversion of faith
there is. We are challenged to appeal to ordinary American youth of
every religion and culture. There is this very small subset of youth
abandoning home and country seeking some kind of adventure and meaning
in a campaign that murders innocent children, slaughtering woman and
the old. Who can make sense of this?

Yet we must try. We live in an ever smaller world where our
differences must be respected. However even among Christians there is
little respect given to our differences. We don't go to war anymore
about this, but our history books won't let us forget we did. Nor
should we forget for as George Santayana said "Those who do not
remember the past are condemned to repeat it." All too often the
world's greatest hot spots define the conflicts in terms of religion.
So the "enlightened" prefer no religion to conflict. There is a small
minority drawn to these conflicts seeking martyrdom. These two
opposites challenge our mediocrity.

It becomes impossible in this kind of news environment that depends on
drama and conflict to show that religious differences don't have to
lead to conflict let alone war. True religion is really a path to
peace and social consciousness. The religious extremists demand
attention while our religious heroes are all over the world setting up
schools, hospitals and projects to improve the living conditions of
those in need around the world. These heroes of faith draw no
attention to their deeds wishing instead to put their faith in action
for the good of humankind. . They too challenge our mediocrity.

In our country and all over the globe there are people of faith making
a difference. Various religious youth groups far outnumbering
terrorists fan out across the world. These young people practice what
religion truly is - to lessen suffering and improve conditions for
all. Bbut who is to know? Churches with such missions barely promote
these efforts due to the struggle to encourage church attendance.

The evangelist James tells us: "14 What good is it, my brothers, if
someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save
him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily
food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and
filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what
good[a] is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have
works, is dead."

Youth is naturally drawn to action. What young person does not see
themselves as able to make a better world? We are challenged to
change the association of religion from conflict, strife, or divisions
to peacemakers. We need to prove religion is indeed the path to peace
and provide for those who would be heroes the means and encouragement
to change the world. We are challenged to honor and respect people of
any faith not as an enemy of my belief, but as a brother and sister
motivated by God to put faith in action.

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