Pokin’ Dead Things
I love to watch people poke jellyfish on the beach.
As you walk the shoreline, especially touristy ones, you can tell where the jellies are laid to rest by the small group that hovers there, staring down. Someone probably says. “I dare you to touch it.” So the bravest among them bends over and gives the jiggly mass a lightening flash poke followed by a protective recoil. It’s as if they anticipate the thing will react to the disturbance. You can watch the process repeated over and over.
I did it, too, the first time I walked on the Oregon coast and came across the dinner plate sized disk of clear gelatin. My husband and I stood above the spineless, brainless, heartless glob and inspected it for a minute before Michael, the brave one, knelt down and poked his finger into the unknown.
Nothing happened, of course. Dead moon jellies remain dead. A finger, stick or toe poke isn’t like CPR, even if the creature had a heart. They don’t wake up and ooze to life or suddenly reveal hidden tentacles with which to drag you into the sea. Dead is dead in this case.
But sometimes things may only appear to be dead. Like faith. How would yours respond if it was poked?
Is it a motionless blob of goo or a beautiful pulsating creation? James, the half brother of Jesus, said that ‘faith without action is dead’ (James 2:17). Faith trusts God then Faith moves. It wiggles and squirms. It runs and swims and flies. It takes a stand, it resists evil, it steps out without fully understanding where it is headed.
Ongoing, growing belief in God’s promises stirs us into action. That’s what Hebrews Chapter 11 is all about. It is the history of people long ago who took God seriously. Read through it when you get a minute and note the verbs – the action words that illustrate the faith these men and women carried in their hearts. They are an example of how living faith acts and moves.
Their faith didn’t need a good poke to check for signs of life.
Let’s make sure ours doesn’t either.
As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. And without faith it is impossible to please God…
(James 2:26 & Hebrews 11:6)