As our three-month Journey Through James comes to a close today, let me share three of the things that were reinforced in my head this time through his letter.
1. You can hear Jesus everywhere in Scripture. It’s hard to read a single paragraph in James and not be reminded of some statement made by Jesus or some experience involving him. Perhaps that’s not surprising since the James who wrote this letter is most likely the Lord’s half-brother. But then again, the more familiar you are with the Christ of the Gospels, the more you’ll recall his life and hear his voice wherever you find yourself reading in Scripture. I need to see and hear my Lord at work wherever I am and it’s been so very good to see and hear him so easily and often in James.
2. Everything is to be handled with prayer. While there are several direct references to prayer scattered throughout James’ letter, it’s hard to read a section and not see prayer indirectly involved in some fashion or form. To me, it’s as if prayer is the subtle watermark that shadows the vocabulary and subjects of the whole document. And with James’ letter being about boldly living out Christian faith in the midst of any and all circumstances, particularly in those settings that are anything but comfortable, wouldn’t we expect prayer to take such a prominent place? My whole life needs to saturated with prayer and I appreciate James subtly, and not so subtly, reminding me so.
3. Our relationships reveal our real religion. There’s little room in James’ mind for Christian faith lived all to itself. No, if James is about anything it’s about our life together as a community of faith. How we treat our brothers and sisters in Christ is how treat the Christ. If we complain against, deceive, dishonor, neglect, or break faith with others, James would have us see that we’re doing these things to God. God dearly loves the people against whom we are guilty of doing these things and he surely doesn’t take kindly to our mistreatment of them. My respect and care for my kin in Christ are crucial to the health of my faith and the health of the community of faith and I thank God for using James to hold me accountable for such.
I do hope you’ve found our time together in James profitable. A masterful, mature teacher of Christ he is and diligent, dedicated disciples of Christ he would have us be. To that end, may God give us grace for the journey until the end of our days. Amen.
Question: what was impressed on your heart as you “journeyed through James?”