Hi everyone, I need help in talking to a family member who’s been a Christian for years but is convinced that her ministry is only to stay home and pray for people. I believe that we all should do more than just pray for others. I believe after being a Christian for many years and no job you should have some type of ministry. At least to reach out and spread the gospel or talk to people or help at something at church. Can someone please help me in addressing this issue of faith without works.
I really appreciate your question because it’s a kind of question I ask myself all the time. Am I doing all I should for God? I often feel called to volunteer and care for the community but is volunteering valuable if I never have a chance to talk with another person about God? Is God really being served by tutoring a kid in math? That temptation is always present for us to strive for what we think God wants instead of following him and trusting he is worthy of being in charge.
When I think through the bible I remember all sorts of examples of times when I’m sure these early Christians or Jews would ask themselves the exact same question but in hindsight we now know that what they did was absolutely right and important. One great examples would be Peter’s escape from jail in Acts 12. Peter was in jail awaiting trial and likely death and I’m sure members of the congregation might have been thinking “why are we praying when we should be trying to spring Peter from jail”!? But while they are praying we see something even more glorious occurs and God shows his power by freeing Peter from jail and returning him to the congregation.
A great example outside the bible would be the monks and copiers of the early church that were producing and protecting holy documents for the 1400 years before the printing press was invented. We have an amazing ability to trust that the bible is the original text because of the centuries of Christians carrying out simple mundane tasks for God while others were spreading the gospel.
I would make the case to you that was is important isn’t the kind of work you are doing, its that you’re willingly doing the work that God has called you to do. It’s good to remember the illustration of 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, the church lives out God’s plan in a multitude of ways by each person following the lives they were given. Prayer is a powerful and necessary behavior of the church so I’d shy away from saying it isn’t a work for God. It’s like my experience volunteering, I personally feel called to volunteer and care for the community around me. When I’m there I only speak with a person about God when I feel like I’m being called to. It isn’t all the time and it isn’t none of the time. God knows when is the best time and maybe today it was more important to just show someone what love can look like. What makes it a work for God isn’t that it had a direct measurable increase in the church, its that the work was done in obedience to the instruction of God.
Regarding your fellow family member your love for this person is a good thing and I don’t want to discourage it. Encourage them in their faith and help them serve God in the way they are feeling called. If they are called to prayer then you should build them up through that. Perhaps you can let them know when you’re engaging with others about the Gospel and they can be praying for you during the whole encounter. If you are confident or have seen indications that they desire to live out their faith another way but are held back by fear, you can pray and help them through that. That said I’ve found its better to focus on building up our fellow Christians in their love and relationship with God than to try and build them up in any specific direction. After all, God is working in each of our lives and as we approach him, we’ll inevitably also begin to increasingly live lives he desires for us.
@Gasper I believe the issue of ‘faith without works’ is more related being obedient to God and serving others with our resources even as Christ has served us. Our faith should bear fruit. It is not necessarily addressing the issue of Church attendance.
But the Scripture does mentioned that we ought to be faithful to gather together with other believers.
Hebrews 10:24-25 - And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Also, here is a thread where we discussed this question that you may find helpful: