Chavez on faith: It's more than good deeds

Noemi Chavez challenged her Chapel audience to understand that faith is about more than just doing good deeds.

Photos by Ralph Freso / Slideshow / Chapel livestream

Noemi Chavez provided the perfect example for her challenging Chapel message Monday morning.

Herself.

The Lead Pastor of Revive Church in Long Beach, California, told the story of how she heard God’s call to leave behind her comfortable life as a high school English teacher in Los Angeles for nine years and become a church planter.

She wasn’t making a fortune as a teacher, but her new salary, initially, was a lot less.

Like zero.

And yet …

“It was probably, after salvation, the best decision I ever made in my life,” she said.

She wasn't suggesting that assembled students in Grand Canyon University Arena give up any thought of a career, but it underscored her point:

"God will invite you to exercise faith, and faith is not good behavior. Faith is a will that is bowed down to God. Faith is a will that says, 'Your plan is actually better than mine.' ... You become a participant in the miracles that He will do in the lives of others no matter where you end up."

Chavez began her talk with praise for the way the students sang along with the music at the start of Chapel.

“My heart felt like it wanted to burst out of my chest because of your full engagement in this time of worship,” she said, emphasizing that they were there voluntarily.

Chavez noted the examples of Abraham and Rahab in James 2:18-26.

She used James 2:18-26 to point out the sacrifice Abraham was willing to make and note that even people who don’t know Jesus practice random acts of kindness. The last six verses read thusly:

Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

True faith is not easy, Chavez said. It requires action. It means doing hard things, such as forgiving someone who doesn't deserve forgiveness, maintaining your faith when your life is going awry and loving people who don’t seem lovable.

"The faith that James invites us to is not an easy faith. It is not a faith of good behavior," she said. "It's not a faith of just being a good Christian who knows how to behave and knows how to do nice things for others. Doing nice things for others is not enough."

We must trust God more than ourselves, Chavez said.

She had another pertinent Bible passage to share, Mark 10:17-22, that shows how Jesus will invite you to do hard things that prove your faith. It’s up to you to act:

As Jesus started on His way, a man ran up to Him and fell on his knees before Him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good — except God alone. You know the Commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”

“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” He said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”

At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

The Worship team's Bella Rea sings in praise during Chapel.

For years, Chavez said, she thought that Jesus' challenge to the man was unfair. But her work in the church has shown her that many people fall into a category she calls "sad faith." They give to the church. They go to church regularly. They think that's enough.

“When we become complacent with what we can build, we end up living a life much like this young, rich ruler,” she said, urging listeners to ignore the world’s definition of a glorious life and go into spaces that don’t necessarily look glorious to others.”

Chavez provided an even better example of what true faith looks like: Jesus’ willingness to die for us. He is a Savior worthy of our trust, she said. We will never regret saying yes to Him.

“We are called and we are invited to follow a Savior who is willing to walk through the hard things with us. … Maybe He’s calling you to simply be somebody who loves Jesus and walks faithfully with Him amongst people who are far from Him. Maybe He's inviting you to trust Him even when the people you love the most know nothing about Him. And He's saying, 'Will you follow Me?'"

But then there's the next step:

“Jesus is saying, ‘Will you go further?’”

Contact Rick Vacek, Senior Manager for Internal Communications, at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].

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