Answering God – 40 Days with the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
Day 3 – Friday after Ash Wednesday
The Religious Society of Friends is rooted in Christianity and has always found inspiration in the life and teachings of Jesus.
How do you interpret your faith in the light of this heritage?
How does Jesus speak to you today?
Are you following Jesus’ example of love in action?
Are you learning from his life the reality and cost of obedience to God?
How does his relationship with God challenge and inspire you?
(Advices & Queries #4)
From the Scriptures:
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
Do you remember the WWJD bracelet? Standing for ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ they were the pioneer in a whole slew of economy size rubber bands with assorted acronyms on them;
FROG – Fully Rely On God
PUSH – Pray Until Something Happens
Y2K – Yield to the King (better than the Millennium Bug)
COPS – Christians Obediently Preaching Salvation
To be honest it all got a bit much in the end and there were many spoof versions of fromthe saying my favourite is the slightly acerbic DWJD – ‘Do What Jesus Did!’ A protest against those who had somehow turned a Gospel imperative into a fashion statement.
‘Do What Jesus Did!’ is the wrist band that would go well with today’s Words Advices & Queries and the Scriptures.
The phrase ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ comes from Charles Sheldon’s famous book In His Steps[i]. First published in 1896 it has sold over 50 million copies and if you have not read it there is every chance there is a copy on your church bookstall or in your local charity shop. It is, in some respects, a simple story, a church minister who, after a tragic death in his church challenges his congregation for a year to “not do anything without first asking, ‘What would Jesus do?'”
From then on the story unfolds and a town is transformed. Would that we had the courage to live those words today instead of simply making them into a slogan to prove that we are ‘with it’ Christians!
Advices & Queries #4 challenges us with the words, ‘Are you following Jesus’ example of love in action?’
This remind us that faith without works is indeed dead, and even deadly, since if we do not care for all parts of the Body of Christ it is our own health we neglect.
This Advice the Society of Friends follows through in Spades as they are active in Social Action in areas as diverse as promoting Peace in Israel and Palestine through groups such as EAPPI[ii] and working to make funerals more affordable for the poorest of society in the United Kingdom[iii] through Quaker Social Action.
Some Christians are hesitant about being involved in action for the Common Good seeing it as being too ‘political’ and hoping that love and prayer will change the world all by itself. Sadly the over-used phrase ‘thoughts and prayers’ as a response to disaster and human sinfulness does not change the hearts and minds of those who do not treat all with respect.
The Letter of James is correct when it says ‘I by my works will show you my faith’ anything less is empty promise.
Jesus calls us to act out the Gospel and not simply be wristband warriors. This is hard challenging work to do. It will, as today’s reading reminds us, be costly. It will alienate us from those who don’t want to change. It may mean we are even separated from those who we thought loved us. However it will also bring us closer to the One Who Loves us Best who will then proclaim, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave’.
May I become at all times, both now and forever
A protector for those without protection
A guide for those who have lost their way
A ship for those with oceans to cross
A bridge for those with rivers to cross
A sanctuary for those in danger
A lamp for those without light
A place of refuge for those who lack shelter.
And a servant to all in need.
Buddhist Prayer of Peace
1) Read slowly the note from ‘Advices & Queries’ above again
2) Some time before Easter Day each of us is almost certain to be faced with a situation which will require us to make a decision for our self or for an other. When that moment comes remember the question ‘What Would Jesus Do?’
Quotes from ‘Advices & Queries’ are copyright © The Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain, 1995, 1997 and 2008
Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Prayers from ‘Prayers for Hard Times’ are copyright © Becca Anderson 2017
These Reflections, ‘Answering God’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2020 – and may be reproduced without charge on condition that the source is acknowledged