For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. (ESV)
There is a word that sums up what James has been saying here in the past few verses, and what he is saying in today's verse. That word is authenticity. In the church we are love to use the word faith. We have learned from James that the one who claims to faith yet does not prove it by their actions are proving that they are a fraud. Their faith is dead. They are not authentic.
I want to give you an example of how important being authentic is. There is a current trend in many churches today where the idea is to make the Sunday Worship service so entertaining that the Millenials, a younger group of people, will be drawn to the cool music, lights, fog, fancy coffee drinks in the lobby, etc.
This entertainment driven model of church growth has problems. This biggest problem with this model of church growth is that it does not connect with millenials. In addition, the church body is not given the spiritual sustenance they need to become more devoted disciples of Jesus Christ. They are not getting taught deep doctrinal truths because that is not entertaining enough for the millenials.
Thom Rainier, a former pastor, and former CEO of LifeWay, did a study on Millenials. Here is what he found:
"With around 12 million Millennials in our churches today, their presence is making a dramatic impact on worship services. This impact is not necessarily manifested in a desire for a certain style of music, but a desired authenticity in the worship service. In that regard, “style” of worship is not their primary focus. Instead they seek worship services and music that have three major elements.
They desire the music to have rich content. They desire to sing those songs that reflect deep biblical and theological truths. It is no accident that the hymnody of Keith and Kristyn Getty has taken the Millennials by storm. Their music reflects those deep and rich theological truths.
The Millennials desire authenticity in a worship service. They can sense when congregants and worship leaders are going through the motions. And they will reject such perfunctory attitudes altogether.
This large generation does want a quality worship service. But that quality is a reflection of the authenticity noted above, and adequate preparation of the worship leaders both spiritually and in time of preparation. In that sense, quality worship services are possible for churches of all sizes."
Authentic. It is what the world desperately needs. We do not need coffee, fog machines, and rock bands. We need faith that is authentic. Be real today. The world is waiting.