Chris Palusky, President & CEO
April 27, 2020
“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 thing needed for the body, what good is that?” James 2:15–16 (ESV)
Through the power of the Gospel, God has secured our eternity and now invites us to join him in what he is doing in the world around us. This partnership with our Creator can fill each moment with meaning and significance as we live our lives as an expression of his love and grace to the people in our lives. This is both a blessing and a responsibility. In this passage, James gives us a strong reminder of this beautiful truth.
In these two verses, James calls us to imagine ourselves encountering someone in desperate need. He asks us to place ourselves in this difficult situation and feel the impact of being left there. If we’re honest, his words may feel harsh and uncomfortably direct. We can see the hollowness of offering platitudes when action is required.
The intent of this passage isn’t shame but conviction and inspiration. His point is simple: it’s not enough to say, “Go in peace,” to someone in need when it’s within our power to be an agent of peace in their lives. Mere words, however well intentioned, are ineffective. And they can be harmful if they don’t lead to action. God sends us to be ambassadors of his love and compassion to others. Our response should never flow from guilt or shame but from thankfulness and grace. We love because we’ve been loved! Paul perfectly captures this in Philippians 2:3–11 where he outlines just how completely Christ loved us through his life, death, and resurrection.
At Bethany, we strive to live a “gritty” Christianity. This means we are willing to go to hard places to do hard things in the name of Christ. We believe the love of Jesus illuminates the darkness, heals the sick, raises the dead, helps the helpless, and—most importantly—lifts the hopeless. We believe Jesus has commissioned his followers to be his hands and feet, expressing his love to a hurting world. This work isn’t glamorous. It can be difficult and at times costly. But its eternal impact is always worth it.
When we follow Christ to hard places, we learn two things: • Jesus never asks us to go where God is not already working (John 5:19) • He goes with us, giving us his strength and wisdom as we go (Matthew 28:20)
We find ourselves in a unique moment in history, as a global pandemic ravages communities and cripples families. During this crisis, vulnerable children are becoming more vulnerable. On any given day, nearly half a million children are in foster care in the United States. This was true before the pandemic, and the number will increase in the coming months. To learn more about the impact COVID-19 has had on vulnerable children in the foster care system, click here to hear from Bethany leaders about what they’re seeing right now.
Of all the ways you can show love to these vulnerable children, foster care is one of the greatest. When you welcome a child or teen into your home, you show them bold love while their family works toward reunification. If you’re interested in playing this important role, Bethany can help you be the answer for a child in need. You provide a loving home, and we’ll provide the support you need, even—perhaps especially—during this uncertain time. Click here to learn how you can get involved right where you are.
To continue your reflection on this topic, read Philippians 2:3–11. Who are the “others” God has placed in your life and is calling you to serve? What can you do today to live out Paul’s counsel in verses 3–4?
Father, above anything else we want to say thank you for loving us and taking us into your family. Thank you for coming to us when we were without hope and filling our lives through your Son, Jesus. We ask you to bring healing and restoration to our land. We humble ourselves before you and express our need for you. Please show us how we can be part of your plan to love our communities and families most in need who live among us. Holy Spirit, guide our thoughts and responses as we seek to be a people of love in action. Please show us where we can contribute, and grant us the courage to go confidently where you call us.
In your Son’s precious name, Amen.