Kenneth Samuel: Principles and Practices

"But to obtain these gifts, you need more than faith; you must also work hard to be good, and even that is not enough.  For then you must learn to know God better and discover what God wants you to do." - 2 Peter 1:5

"The Hunger Games" is one of the most captivating movies I've ever seen (and I'm anxiously anticipating the sequel).   The great irony of the film is that in a society that is aesthetically beautiful, technologically advanced, highly sophisticated and socially proper, children are sacrificed for sport.

From time to time I think we all need to be prodded into sober considerations of just how much our daily practices betray our vaunted principles.

Like Christians today, the Christians of the first century very much wanted to receive the fullness of God's grace and salvation.  But they were reminded that the gifts of salvation require more than faith - more than belief in a certain set of lofty principles and sacred values.  In addition to their godly faith, the early Christians were challenged to practice humane ethics; in addition to their knowledge of God they were challenged to learn how to properly love and respect one another; in addition  to their religious communion they were challenged to create caring communities.

It's another way of saying that faith without works is dead.  It's another way of saying that word without flesh cannot save.

A Constitution without a Congress that is committed to the common good of the nation cannot help us.  A Bible in the hands of believers who reverence the words of the Bible but who fail to follow the Word made flesh, cannot light the way.  Spiritual confessions without community sacrifices are ornately obscene.

A farmer had two mules.  One was named Willing and the other was named Able.  Willing was willing, but he wasn't able.  Able was able, but he wasn't willing.  So in essence, the farmer had nothing.


Gracious God, endow us with the will and the ability; the moral principles and the social ethics, necessary to become your Beloved Community, not just in word, but in deed.  Amen.


Taken with permission from UCC's StillSpeaking Devotionals. Visit