Faith without works is dead.
Jackie Robinson is the first African-American ball player to have a chance to play in the all-white professional baseball league, thanks to Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey. Throughout his journey he has been chased out of his home, received death threats, and daily faced prejudice and racism on and off the baseball field. But he’s making a name for himself in the minor leagues, practicing with the Montreal Royals during Spring Training to see if he can make it with them in the regular season. However, his future in baseball is still uncertain until Mr. Rickey calls him onto the field for a chat.
Motives, Good works, Faith, Works, Service
Robinson walks from the dugout onto the baseball field to meet Mr. Rickey, knowing that something is going on. They start their conversation with small talk about how well the grass grows in the south, but quickly turn to more important matters. “Jackie, it is my pleasure to tell you that you have earned a place with the Montreal Royals.” A cautious, and then elated smile appears on Jackie’s face- his hard work and fortitude is finally paying off, and he’s on his way to the big leagues. Mr. Rickey details what the plans are, and sends Jackie on his way so he can share the good news with his wife. However, on his way out, he pauses, curious. He asks Mr. Rickey why he’s doing all this to get him onto the team. “I’m in the baseball business... I hope to put together a team that can win the World Series. And the World Series means money. You believe that, don’t you?” Robinson looks at him incredulously, it’s clear he knows that Rickey is giving him a fake answer. But he goes along anyway, saying, “I don’t think it matters what I believe. Only what I do.” Mr. Rickey agrees to this, and tells Jackie that he should play like crazy: worry pitchers until they fall apart, steal bases as he sees fit, and generally play ball like he believes he should.
Jackie Robinson is well on his way to making history, but this is the first time he’s stopped and asked why it’s all happening. But when questioned about whether or not he believes Mr. Rickey’s motives, he decides: it’s not whether or not he believes Mr. Rickey has selfish motives, it’s what he does that ultimately matters most. Now, as Christians, we know that what we believe is incredibly important -- knowing the Bible and trusting that Christ is our Savior is one of the defining characteristics of our faith. However, the Bible cautions us against spending all of our time believing something without doing anything about it. James 2:17 calls faith without works dead. He says that it’s useless to tell someone who’s cold and hungry, “Go in peace, be warm and filled,” because that doesn’t meet any of their physical needs. Take a look at Jesus’ ministry. While He certainly prayed for people, He didn’t do it from far away, or only in an abstract sense. When He ministered to people, he came right alongside them and treated their physical needs as well as spiritual ones (Matthew 9:35). He touched the lepers that he healed (Matthew 8:1-3) and acted out the commandments that he gave his disciples. When he told his followers about how they would be known, it was based on their acts of love for each other (John 13:35) because it is a visual, physical representation of what is going on in their hearts. The actions we take act are a tangible sign of the work God has done in us, and will cause others to see Him in us (Matthew 5:16). Take some time to consider: how can you act out your faith today? As Christians, we believe that God calls us to some pretty hard things, like loving our enemies and giving generously to those that have less than us. Is that something you’re willing to do? The Christian walk doesn’t take place within the four walls of the church -- the meat of it comes from our interactions with others, especially those who don’t know Jesus. Are your actions pointing them to Him? Don’t let your faith be dead. Let it thrive through how you live your life for Christ.