journey through James (3)

A few years back, a New Testament scholar by the name of David Rhoads penned a fine article* that spoke to the heart of the contrasts in the letter of James. As a part of that article, he included a chart summarizing the characteristics of the two ways of living as discussed in James’ letter. Since I first saw Rhoads’ article, I have yet to come across a more concise and clear summation of the main idea expressed in James. Rhoads wrote:

“James expresses coherence and consistency in a contrast between two ways of living. … In James, the two ways are expressed in terms of being either “friends of the world” or “friends of God (4:4; cf. 2:23) – with the following characteristics for each way.

“In James, the two ways are expressed with metaphors of growth. Often this growth is expressed in images from nature – conception, pregnancy, birth, fruit-bearing, plants, rains for the field, sowing and harvest, and so on. The images mainly show a progressive growth of evil and a progressive growth of good, each dynamic moving toward the ‘maturity’ of its respective end. The idea of maturity or ‘perfection’ – the attaining of the goal of something or someone – the the central theme of James. …

“Regarding the progressive movements in opposite directions, James urges readers to reject friendship with the world and to choose friendship with God. James also warns the friends of God about two pitfalls: not to be a friend of the world at the same time they are claiming to be friends of God, and not to think that faith is adequate unless it matures to good works.”

Since we will begin our journey through James in our adult Bible classes at MoSt Church in just a couple of weeks, let me ask you to ask yourself the question I’m asking of myself:

On the basis of my behavior, in which direction is my life truly moving toward maturity, toward deeper friendship with God or with this world?

* David Rhoads, “The Letter of James: Friend of God,” Currents in Theology and Mission 25:6 (Dec. 1998): 473-486

the help: the movie

The wife and I saw The Help this past Sunday. We were blown away. The Help is a roller-coaster ride of emotion and thought delivered through some of the best acting performances you will see on film. I believe The Help is one of the most powerful “sermons” I’ve ever seen or heard “preached” against racism. If you haven’t heard of this movie, or the book it’s based on, that needs to change. If you’re a Christian at least 13 years of age and don’t have to have everything squeaky clean before you can see God’s good news in something, I would urge you to see this movie. The language is coarse, but the message compelling.

If you think I exaggerate, perhaps you’d like to read a few reviews of The Help from a Christian perspective. Following are links to a trio of reviews: the first by a movie director, the second penned by a well-known female Christian author, and the third authored by a leading, conservative New Testament scholar.

The Help by Mark Clement

The Help: Not the Gospel by Karen Zacharias Spears

‘The Help’ – South Facing by Ben Witherington

If you’d like to see some reviews from some of the standard Christian movie review sites, here are a few more links:

The Help Serves a Story of Hope (Crosswalk.com)

First-Time Novelist Succeeds with The Help (thefish.com)

The Help (Christianity Today)

Cast and director of “the Help” tell their stories (Christianity Today)

The Help (Focus on the Family’s PluggedIn site)

If you’ve seen the movie, I’d like to know what you think about it. Care to comment?