James 2:14-18 – What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do." (NIV)
Springtime is recruiting season for the Boy Scouts. Each February and March, Cub Scout dens that are ready to cross over and join the Boy Scouts will visit various Scout troops to check out their programmes, see how the troops function, and generally get some idea of what they will be joining. As part of the process, we will meet with the parents to explain what Scouting and our troop in particular are all about.
In addition to talking about our camping schedule, advancement programme and community service projects, we stress the need for parental involvement. It is a well-established fact that, in order for a boy to advance in Scouting and stay with the programme, his parents must be actively involved as well. Simply buying the boy a uniform and camping gear, and dropping him off for most of the meetings and campouts, is not enough. The boy will not advance, and sooner or later — usually sooner — he stops coming to the meetings and ultimately drops out. As in all aspects of raising children, parents need to keep after their sons, checking their handbooks and encouraging them to complete the various requirements for advancement.
However, even more is required. The boys who are successful — the ones who stay in the programme, are active workers and leaders, and advance — are the ones whose parents are involved in the troop themselves. They may be Scoutmasters, committee members, merit badge counsellors, or they may simply give of their time by driving to and from campouts, going camping with their sons or in some other way helping with specific projects. The key element is that they are present and participating in the activities of the troop. It is this participation, more than any amount of badgering, that tells their sons that Scouting is important.
Our faith is not different. If it is important to us, then it will guide our actions. It will lead us to become involved: to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to give shelter to the homeless, to comfort those in despair, and to speak out against injustice. If it is only a set of words to be mouthed at appropriate occasions, it will quickly become a dry and meaningless thing that blows away with the wind.
Prayer: Gracious Lord, open our hearts so that your faith may guide us in all we do. Let it drive us to "do justice, to love kindness; and to walk humbly with (you) our God" as you commanded through the prophets and apostles. Amen.