Faith in Motion

It’s Motion Conference week here in Birmingham, Alabama. Motion Conference is a student conference put on by Church of the Highlands and held at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center that hopes to motivate students to put their faith in Jesus into motion. Matthew is Creative Director for Student Ministries at Highlands, so this is a big week around the Benson house. We expect more than ten thousand in attendance this year.

That’s more than twice the attendance just two years ago. Motion Conference is kind of a big deal.

But why is it that it’s called Motion? Why are we so interested in seeing students put feet to their faith?

The Bible teaches that we are not saved by our works, but that it is because of our faith that we do good works. It is by our good works, done in the name of Jesus, that others are pointed to Christ, and hopefully, then, to salvation. We do not do good works to earn God’s favor; we have God’s favor, so we do good works. Got it? Okay.

I wasn’t entirely clear on that point growing up. Neither were some of the good folks around me. I could just tell. They were “Do-gooders”; people always bustling around helping and serving and proving their worth to the Father by their worthy deeds. For them, it was burdensome and never ending, exhausting even. I mean, how many good deeds are enough to win God’s favor? How can you ever really know you have tipped the scale in your favor, and can keep it tipped in your favor, to guarantee your eternal residence?

There was only one good deed in all of history that was enough to win us God’s favor. Just one, and that was accomplished by Christ himself on our behalf. Jesus is the ultimate “Do-gooder”. Only His action is enough to insure our place with Him in eternity. It was a once for all kind of deal. To say that your good deeds are required of you lessens the sacrifice He made. It tells Jesus that His suffering, death, and resurrection are not enough for you to find favor in the sight of God.

Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever been in a situation where you sincerely did everything you could do, and yet were told it was not enough? Then you know how that feels. I can imagine when we go about doing good deeds to earn God’s favor, Jesus must feel that same way. We are, in effect, telling Him that what He did was good, but not quite good enough.

Earning favor is a part of all of the world’s religions except for Christianity. Ours is the only faith based on a God who gave Himself up for His followers. In every other major world religion, it is the followers who are expected to give for the god. There is a record of deposits and withdrawals. But with Jesus, our balance is clear, our account is reconciled. That’s what it means to be reconciled. It means the balance is brought to zero.

My son has a relationship with a local mechanic. He has invested in this person, and is faithful to take his car to this mechanic whenever whatever is wrong with the car is something he can fix. When he calls my son to come pick up his car, my son will ask what the charges are and, on occasion, the mechanic will tell him, “There’s no charge this time”, that his balance is zero. There is no amount of talking that will cause the mechanic to come up with a balance for my son to pay.

When we come to faith in Jesus, it’s like that. We come, recognizing our need for a savior. We come in full knowledge of our sin and our misdeeds. We know how bad we are. We come expecting that there is a price to be paid, only to find out that our bill has been covered.

Our pastor says that hell is where folks go to pay their own bill.

My bill has been paid, and if you love Jesus, yours has, too. So back to my original question. Why Motion? Why encourage students, and anyone else, to put feet to their faith in good deeds? As believers, it is our job to share Jesus with the world. The words we speak, our actions and our deeds are to point dying people to a living Savior. Very likely, it was the good deeds done in the name of Jesus that pointed us to him. It’s only fitting that we return the favor. By the end of this week, I am praying that ten thousand students go back to school this fall ready to put their faith in motion.

Because if they do, they just might change the world.

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