"WHAT GOOD is it, my BROTHERS, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith SAVE him? If a brother or sister is POORLY clothed and lacking in daily food, 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 is that? So also FAITH by itself, if it does not have works, IS DEAD." (James 2:14-26)
Jesus carved a trail to Heaven as He traveled from Bethlehem to Calvary, leaving glimpses of the salvation He would earn for us through His own suffering. Satan fell from heaven like lightning with every demon that the Christ and His apostles cast out, with every illness they healed, with every sin they forgave, with every person they baptized, and with every word they preached. Jesus left us a clear path to follow to Heaven through Word and Sacrament given to us by a new army of pastors.
As you and I follow that path left by our Lord, we, too, are called to leave a trace of the love of God in the good things that we do for one another. Our good works don't earn us a seat in heaven; they don’t even make the path easier to follow. Our heavenly seat is waiting for us, already bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus, and our path to it was never promised to be easy because the world is, after all, still corrupted by sin.
We are commanded to love one another (John 13:34). There's no getting around that. But God’s love is so wonderful that we ought to want to share it in some way. Heaven is so fantastic that we ought to want our sinful world to be like it. So, we punish the wicked, we feed the hungry, we give shelter to the homeless, we help out a neighbor whose basement is flooded, we hold the hand of a friend who is ill, and we try to be patient with our children and loved ones. We try to do good, not to be like God, but to show the world what God is like. Not perfectly, no, and not as often as we should and not without some grumbling and expectation of something in return, but still, we share the love of God as best we can.
Those works do not bring our faith to life, but they are the result of our living faith born of a baptism into a living God.
Suggested verse to repeat if it's a difficult day is from John 13:34
PRC buddies, remember to breathe!
"Just as I have loved you, -------> 5 count inhale
love one another." -------> 5 count exhale