“My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus…….”
James 2: 1
James 1: 1
‘How To…..’ books. We will all have read one or two in our time. How to….be a parent, build a deck, lose weight, bake a cake (the latter listed nicely next to how to lose weight!); the list goes on. As a nineteen year old proud owner of my first car (a Ford Escort) I bought a ‘Haines Manual,’ which was a ‘How To’ look after the car book. It literally told me anything and everything I needed to know and do. The trick was not just to read the manual but to act on what it said. I genuinely tried the latter approach and in the main got things right. There were a couple of times though, even with following the guidance, that I needed the help of a trained mechanic.
I share this because the book of James is in a way a “How To..’ book for living out our Christian faith. James tells us ‘as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus,’ how to practically live as children of God (2: 1). This book is sometimes maligned even by such as Martin Luther who called it an ‘epistle of straw.’ It is often misunderstood, some claiming that James goes against the doctrine of justification. The truth though is that James writes a very practical letter. It is almost a ‘circular’ that James sends to the early Church scattered among the Nations (1: 1) in a style that is almost like the book of Proverbs: lots of succinct wisdom. The guidance covers such matters as: control of the tongue; care for the poor; wealth; purity; times of trial; and unity in the Church.
James was Jesus’ half-brother. He, with Jesus’ other brothers, did not at first believe in Christ (John 7: 5). He is later found in Acts worshiping alongside the first disciples and giving influential advice to the early Church (Acts 15: 13-21; 21: 17-18). He was clearly held in high esteem. The change in James occurred because of belief, because of faith. The resurrected Jesus appeared to many after His death and resurrection; James is named amongst these individuals (1 Corinthians 15: 5-7). For James unbelief became belief which translated to faith with action. So much so that he called himself “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,” (1:1).
At St. Aidan’s we say that we want to know the Real God so much that we become a Real Church filled with God’s Children who live Real Lives for Him. Not just spoken faith but faith with action. This book of James will enable us to have Real Faith that can result in such lives. A very relevant book for us in our context; after all truth is timeless. May the Lord bless, guide, teach and encourage us as we study this book together.
To Ponder: What do we say we believe and what does our life prove we believe? As we start studying this Scripture what area in your life do you think may be challenged; how will James’ example help you?
Pray: Merciful God, your Son came to save us and bore our sins on the cross: may we trust in your mercy and know your love, rejoicing in the righteousness that is ours through Jesus Christ our Lord. May these truths be evident in our lives as we live by faith and not by sight to your glory and joy. Amen
Praise: Come Alive by Lauren Daigle
Trust and Obey by the Vagle Brothers
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.