Faith or Works? Why the Season of Lent is Important to Faith for Everyday

There is a story of a horse groomer who would spend much effort everyday combing and rubbing down the horse in his care, but at the same time, he stole from the oats intended for the horse and sold them for his own profit. One day the horse had enough. “Hey!,” said the horse, “if you really wish me to be in the best condition, you should groom me less, and feed me more.”

I am struck by one particular aspect of the story, and that is the importance of balance in our care. For the horse to be at its best, both the food and the combing must be done. To neglect one or the other would leave the horse unbalanced. The horse knew it and could keep silent no longer!

In our own lives, we find aspects of this very story. But I think it is more telling of our spiritual lives even more so. It is a troubling thing for you or me to get so wrapped up in our yearning for spiritual growth that we neglect the concern for our fellow humans. Likewise, we can get so obsessed with doing good, we fail to care for our inward souls. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Revival, rejected faith by works as well as “spiritual solitaries.” Throughout Wesley’s life and ministry he looked at “classical Christianity” and made sure all understood, that though we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus, this same faith would be lived out in the works we did for our neighbors and needy.

Wesley would preach and teach affirming Paul’s words that it is, “by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9).” And Wesley would also affirm James’ challenge to a mere solitary life, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also (James 2:26).”

As we enter the season of Lent in the church, the 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter, it is a time for us to turn our attention that care of our inward souls, to come to faith in Jesus once again, to reflect and ruminate on the messiness of our lives and the messy we have made. Here, in these forty days, we take time to do what I often call, “The Inner Work,” and prepare for the outward works in the days after Easter.

The Church is not retreating into itself. This is OUR calendar year for we live according to the Kingdom of God. We are, as the groomer, responsible for caring for this inward condition of our souls, not merely for ourselves but for others.

What are you doing to care for your soul? How is your church helping? How are you helping others? Do you find yourself staying in love with God? Do No Harm. Do Good. Stay In Love With God. Jedi Pastor Ken


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