God is saying, “Show Me what you’re made of. Show me what you’ve got.” Is your faith just words, or is it action? Is it a lifestyle?
That’s what God always says when He lets life happen in big and scary ways. He is still very much in control, and His plans for His people are always to prosper and to bless. But He never promises us an easy, enjoyable process when life hits. Jesus said so Himself: “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart – I have overcome the world!”
So when hurricanes hit and floodwaters rage and lives have been devastated by the extreme forces of nature, God and the Church and the world and the devil himself are all looking to see how believers respond. Will we come together, or will we fall apart?
One of the more impressive scenes I’ve observed in the aftermath of Harvey is the video of a phenomenally long line of pickups and SUVs on the interstate in Texas, each one towing a boat of some sort, all heading TOWARD the destruction. Another picture shows a long line of people in Houston waiting outside in the rain at a rescue center. They’re not standing there looking for help; they’ve come to VOLUNTEER!
Genuine faith springs into action whenever the storms hit, whether they carry the force of a Category 4 or if it’s my own personal little tornado. This is what Jesus was talking about as He wrapped up the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7, and it seems even more fitting right now:
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
What is Jesus telling us to do? What has He taught us for moments such as these?
1.PRAY. Because He invites us to, and even expects us to. That way He hears what our faith sounds like when we come to the only One who has the power to heal and restore. So pray. And then pray again.
2.CARE. I know people in Houston. Maybe you do, too. But even if you don’t, they are still our neighbors in need. True faith doesn’t go for empty gestures or feel-good pleasantries. Faith flows from the love we’ve received from Christ, and it inspires a palpable measure of compassion.
3.GIVE. Already there are numerous avenues for donating to hurricane and flood relief for Texas. We have also created and linked to opportunities to make it real in our concern for those who have lost just about everything.
4.HELP. Once the waters recede and the true scope of the damage becomes clear, the need for boots on the ground to clean up and start rebuilding will be huge. As was the case in 2006 with Katrina, we will see a contingent from North Wisconsin heading south to help.
5.COME TOGETHER. When each one of us does these things, we are not only showing how faith works, but we’re beginning to make a difference in the lives of those who need. When we come together, when we join our prayers and our efforts, when we draw from our collective strength and our collective resources, the increase in our impact is exponential. We will put some plans in action in the days and weeks ahead.
And that might be the best of all responses to the catastrophes of life. God’s people coming together, to be His mouth and hands for those who need to hear the voice of the Shepherd, and who need to experience the power of His grace. This Faith In Action system works not only for hurricanes, but for all the challenges of life in a fallen world. It’s what Jesus is looking for in His disciples, that the world will know who we are and who He is, by our living and active love for Him, for each other, and even for people we’ve never met.
It shouldn’t take a ferocious hurricane or a hideous terrorist attack to bring people together. But sometimes that’s what God uses to get our attention, and to gauge our reaction. For each one of us, and for all of us, He’s looking for our response to the storms. To turn toward Him, or turn away. To come together, or fall apart.
Let’s come together.