I've never understood the big tadoo about faith vs. works. Why are these things "vs" each other?
A mature(ing) Christian should strive to be unaware of each as separate compartments. Each act is obedience in love.
Its like loving your wife. I know I do and act like I do all at once. But I'm not thinking about either, at all. I'm thinking about her. And when I do, I'm as close to being in the eternal now of Grace that I'll ever be.
Sometimes one is more effort than the other, (I'm sure that's true more for Amber than me) but because I'm in love, (Not puppy dog stuff here, but cultivated husbands-love-and serve-your-wife stuff) most of the time, I don't have much of a choice. I love her, and that's all there is to it.
I think us greek-thinking Christians have been too darn hard on our selves for too long.
I'm a "musician." I play "music" by trade. I play in a church. But sometimes I don't. Which glorifies God? Both. But sometimes, some think that one does more than others. Why? Because of our DESPERATE need to compartmentalize. Both are obedience and both please God and myself.
Did you know that there are some tribes in Africa who don't know what "music" is? They make it all day long, but when asked about their music, they look completely perplexed. There is no word for it to compartmentalize it. It is simply a part of their communication and the joy of living. It is as natural to them as bubbling is to a brook.
But us western children of Aristotle? We've got music stores divided into THOUSANDS of musical genres.
The same thing goes for faith and works. We've got THOUSANDS of denominations, each one with a different rule book on how to better experience God by either more works or more Grace. But overall, the real separating factors between us are our different views on works vs. Grace.
Christians aren't the only ones who got all caught up in works. See, the Jews really took the works thing and made into something distorted. They got so stern about all the laws that NO ONE could POSSIBLY do them all. This is what pissed them off so bad about Jesus. He was living the law again in a way that was senergetic, a way that was both natural and supernatural to man. Sabbath made for Man, not man for the Sabbath.
So along came the early Christians and they took the "don't worry about works" thing too far and James, the brother of the Lord, came along and set things straight. You cannot separate works from acts of mercy and Grace flowing through you or visa versa. It is like separating air from the function of a lung.
But we just can't get over it, still. We love to have bible study after bible study, knocking the idea of works into the ground. Then we go lock ourselves up in a prayer closet and "get things right" so that we can FINALLY do something for our neighbor and not out of pride.
"Wait... If I help that homeless person am I doing to gain God's favor? Or did I do it because I have God's favor???"
I think that God gets quite annoyed with these questions. "Just feed the starving soul, you spoiled little idiot."
Most times, I don't think there's much time to figure all that crap out. And we've surely wasted too much time pointing fingers and sitting high in our ivory prayer towers "getting our hearts right" before we love our neighbor. When many times, the best way to experience God's grace is to do something for someone else when you are feeling very selfish.
I say that we stop altogether thinking about works vs grace and thinking about about them as extension of one another. In doing so, we start spending time with each other, and loving each other through kindness.
It is amazing how meaningless this debate is when someone you love is suffering. There is no debate. You love them and care for them. A synergetic moment. A darn-near hypostatic moment, when spirit and flesh work as they are meant to work: together all at once, sharing in the same nature, not distinctly different and in opposition, but as one.
I love the word synergetic. It means, "The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual."
Someday, we may be so lucky as to be perplexed by any question that would separate and compartmentalize Grace, faith and acts of love done in the physical now.