Jim and I used to love to take trips into the North Georgia Mountains during the fall months. The colors were breathtaking and we loved spending time together enjoying the scenery. One of our frequent stops was a place called Tallulah Falls. We discovered it one day when we saw a sign and decided to check it out. We stopped at a tourist attraction there and walked around. The little store and gas station stood adjacent to a ravine, created by the roaring waters of the Falls. Tallulah Gorge was made famous when Karl Wallenda crossed it, walking on a cable, with no net below him. There is a lookout marking that spot and it is hard to imagine how someone would have been brave enough to cross that cable with the possibility of a 1000 foot fall into the roaring waters below.
I told the Tallulah Falls story at a Bible study this week. I often use it to illustrate the difference between knowing about faith and having faith. I like to use a picture of Karl Wallenda when I can. Karl Wallenda, founded The Flying Wallendas, a dare-devil circus act known for performing stunts. Wallenda was able to cross the Tallulah Gorge on a cable wire, using only a long pole to balance himself. I asked them to, “imagine a man who could go back and forth on that cable, time and time again, carrying a two hundred pound barrel. He turns and asks the crowd, “How many of you believe I could carry a person across the ravine?” Most of the people in the crowd raise their hand. Then the tightrope walker asks, “Who will volunteer to be that person?” That is the difference between belief and faith.
James 2:18-19 says, “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” Is it enough to just believe?
A lot of people believe that Jesus existed, and that he died on a cross. Many believe the resurrection, or at least try to. Many of these people even sit in the pews on Sunday. James continues chapter 2 of his Epistle describing the faith of two Bible heroes, Abraham and Rahab. Abraham was the Father of the nation Israel and Rahab was the prostitute who saved Joshua and the other spies from being captured in Jericho. Both Abraham and Rahab were credited with having faith. They didn’t just believe, they acted on their faith in God. Abraham laid his son Isaac on the altar, believing that whatever God asked of him was right. Rahab risked her life to save the lives of God’s people. As a result, she and her family were saved. Their faith was considered real because their actions proved it.
I have recently had several chances to talk with young people who are committed to their faith, and committed to leading a life that honors God. All of them have said the same thing. They feel very “alone” amongst their peers. Many of their friends, even their church friends, have abandoned the notion that God’s word defines what is right and wrong behavior. They have adopted a mixture of Word and world. Interestingly, that is the behavior they believe is most appropriate for their day and time.
How do we convince people of nominal faith and people of no faith that Scripture has the answers? How do we convince them that they want what is on the other side of this life? How do we convince people that obeying God’s word will give them their best life here and in heaven? According to James, we show our faith by what we do. Who will choose heaven because of your faithful actions? Thankfully, we are able to tell them about a Savior who can carry us safely there. I hope you get the chance to share that good news soon!