"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (James 1:27 NIV84)
"He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8 NIV84)
Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:28, 29 NIV84)
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (Galatians 5:6 NIV84)
God wants a relationship with us and He has provided a means for that relationship through faith in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice to provide us forgiveness of sins. After that, God wants us to live for Him and to represent Him well in a world that has lost its way and is given to injustice, greed, and selfishness.
Faith matters. We are to place our faith in Jesus. But then, that means something. Our faith is to express itself tangibly. Justice. Mercy. Humility. How can we see someone in need and not care? How can we see injustice and not be moved? How can there be darkness without us trying to shine the light? True religion puts us in an active stance. It causes is to lean forward toward those struggling to find their way or are in bondage or are being abused. We live lives that actively and clearly represent the ethic of the Kingdom of God, not of this world.
We do not do this alone. We are placed by the Holy Spirit in redemptive communities to live out this new life together in a "colony of heaven in the land of death," as Eugene Peterson calls it. As we love one another in communities of the Kingdom, we are in position to work together to bring true transformation to individuals, families, communities, and even nations by the power of God. Our lives are not our own. We belong to Jesus.
I write this as a hurricane is about to hit my homeland of the Gulf Coast. God has placed His people all over that region today in every facet of life from school teachers to firemen to government administrators to the military to medical personnel, etc, efc. Every person is uniquely talented to contribute to the common good for the glory of God. God has placed Christians in position to make a difference - to provide healing and hope in every situation we find ourselves in. We are on mission every day. We worship God with our lives every day. God is always working.