Faith by itself, without works, is DEAD

A storm is rolling over a green field
“The Approach” by Dave Hoefler

Roe v. Wade has been overturned [June 24, 2022].

Ok, but what does ‘overturned’ mean in this case? Simply put, there is no longer a federal constitutional right to abortion — each State will determine if/when abortions are legal.

Ok, now what? We act. No matter your religion, your political party, your race, your education, your income — you ACT.

As a Mississippian, this decision will have a high impact on our State. We already have the highest infant mortality rate, one of the highest pre-term birth rates, and above average maternal mortality rate. Black women in Mississippi are three times as likely as white women to die of pregnancy-related complications [Mississippi Today, June 24, 2022].

Ok, how can we act? Great question! Experience has taught me that a ‘war of words’ may only strengthen the divide. Before you find yourself in the middle of a ‘war’, consider implementing a few ‘rules of engagement’:

  1. Silence — show restraint of your words. Be a safe place.
  2. Listen — to your family, your friends, your co-workers, your community. Do not just ‘hear’ their voices, listen with thoughtful attention, and give consideration.
  3. Empathize — sense their emotions, intentionally ‘put yourself in their shoes’, even though you do not share their views.
  4. Ask — admit you need clarification. Do not place blame. If you are still unclear, own your confusion, and ask again.

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” — Stephen Covey

Ok, now can we act? Yes! Let’s ‘act’ : verb / 1. take action 2. behave/move in the way specified [Oxford Languages]

1. Pray — prayer is an action, but prayer is not a substitute for action [James 2:14–17]:

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith, but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed, and lacking in food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled’, without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

2. Guard — stop the gossip, go out of your way to make others feel welcomed, and protect those in harm’s way [Matthew 25: 34–36 & 40]:

“Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you took Me in, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you visited Me. ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me’.”

3. Give — share your time: volunteer, run errands, mentor, drive to medical appointments, and so on. Do not feel “less than” if you are unable to give financially. In fact, Rick Warren says the giving of your time is the greatest gift of all:

“When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life… That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time.”

4. Donate — start local. Call your church, food pantry, school district, daycare, prison, utility company, and so on — each will be able to give you names of those in need [Hebrews 13:16]:

“…do good, and share with those in need…”

5. Speak — add your voice. Engage, create solutions, and enact change. Express generosity, compassion, and empower others [1 Thessalonians 5:11]:

“Therefore, encourage one another, and build one another up…”

In Closing, my dearest Mississippi, we have suffered together, and we have triumphed together. Though we will not always agree, I will always love you. As Marshall Ramsey says…

“When things get bad, we get good.”

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