Faith That Builds

Dan Lovaglia, Camp Pastor, Camp Paradise | June 7, 2024

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
James 2:14-17

“Well, Dan, God got a hold of me. I started coming up to camp in 1979 and never looked back.” I loved hearing more of Jimmy’s story in early May as I helped open Camp Paradise for its 48th season. Jimmy is one of Camp’s longest-running volunteers. Every spring and fall he ensures our behind-the-scenes systems start and keep running. He knows the power of Dads Camp, so he invests his gifts and skills far beyond the church walls. Jimmy knows firsthand about faith that builds.

This spring, Camp Paradise was brought to life by 62 volunteers to honor our heavenly Father by preparing the way to serve 1000+ dads, kids and families. You wouldn’t believe the amount of unpaid work that was accomplished in 19 days! Year in and year out, scores of men and women participate in spring and fall work weeks. They invest their hands and hearts in ministry. Like Jimmy, they have been changed by faith that builds, a faith that stems from a Sunday service but doesn’t stay inside the building.

James 2:14-17 launches with a heart-stopping question, “What good is it?” When Christians start missing the point, this kind of inquiry cuts to the heart. James knew that some people swing the faith pendulum toward God’s saving grace, and others toward good deeds. Ultimately, this passage calls out that faith builds—it’s not either-or, it’s both-and! James’ use of the Greek word ophelos is translated simply as “good.” But there’s more to it. Ophelos means, “heap up, increase, profit, meaning furtherance, advantage.” In other words, what benefit is it to claim faith in Christ and not sacrifice and serve like Him? If faith doesn’t build upon itself and build up God’s Kingdom in this world, what good is it?

I’m honored to serve with the likes of Jimmy and the hundreds of faithful Camp Paradise team members. None signed up forever, each just puts one foot in front of the other as God leads. As you and I go about what’s in front of us this weekend, I pray we’ll look beyond the church’s four walls. I pray we’ll be inspired to step out, to tangibly serve God and others, so we’ll experience faith that builds.

Next Steps

“Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” Mother Theresa

  • As you go about your day and do whatever you do, allow the Holy Spirit to ask you, “What good is it?”
  • Is this situation, relationship, or need to be met an opportunity to cultivate faith that builds?
  • Beyond the walls of the church, what good does God want you to bring to the world?