JohnSWilson3 Blog

“…As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead…”
August 17, 2009, 10:30 pm
Filed under: F Letter of James

After Acts chapter 14 this seemed a good place to read the Letter of James. Scholars seem to think it was written about the time the Jewish Christians left Jerusalem during it’s initial persecution and so had dispersed into Judea and Samaria and other parts of what we know as Syria.

As I read the letter by James I was struck at how much this letter can mean to the Body of Christ who meet together either in the marketplace or in homes. It seems as though James purpose for writing was to remind these Christians about the kind of life they had lived in Jerusalem while meeting together either from house-to-house or wherever they could in the marketplace, since they had been thrown out of the Jewish temple (it is my opinion that the temple was where they witnessed to the life of Jesus instead of having a “large church worship service”). I sure do need reminding!

The letter also reminds me that life lived close together can get messy and there is a bunch of messy stuff to be dealt with when people get to know each other in a shared life, warts and all! I remember from Acts that the followers of Jesus were devoted to the apostles’ teaching of the life of Jesus, devoted to fellowship, sharing life together, breaking of bread in each others homes, worshipping God, prayer and fasting. There is a way of living that we share in common, the life of Jesus!

James seems to contrast the life of Jesus to the life of the world. Almost like Paul who says later in the New Testament about putting off the old man and putting on the new man – Jesus! James reminds the Christians about being wise in how we conduct ourselves and describes how living a life of wisdom is practically shown within the Body of Christ, perhaps seeing it from his own experiences in organic church life. Every church meeting in homes together must read James, read it completely through, and think about and share what God is saying to them from it! How did I participate in the Body of Christ when we met together, was I selfish or humble? How does the Body of Christ look like when they are living Jesus’ life together?

James says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James repeats what Acts has shown me in that Jesus is living his life, ministry, death, and resurrection through His Body! When the Body of Christ comes together in homes or wherever they can gather, “everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says…look after orphans and widows in their distress…don’t show favoritism….’Love your neighbor as yourself,’ (then) you are doing right…speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom…I will show you my faith by what I do (in helping someone who ‘is without clothes and daily food’)…Not many of you should resume to be teachers, my brothers, because we know that we who teach will be judged more strictly…Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be…show (wisdom and understanding) by his good deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom…wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere…’God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble’…Submit yourselves, then , to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you…Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up…Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins….be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near…Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders (or mentors) of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, we will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective…Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” Man, what letter!

Life together isn’t a pretty picture, it’s messy, it’s difficult, but Jesus said it was not going to be easy, but praise God He said He had overcome the world! This is Jesus living His life, ministry, death, and resurrection life through His Body! James describes in practical terms what it means “to deny youself, take up your cross daily, and follow me” in loving one another as Jesus loved us. I need to by faith, submit to God and His grace and in so doing His fruit of patience, love, perseverance, and humility will be expressed as I relate to others. When the Body of Christ meets together everyone has freedom to share Jesus with each other! With all that life deals me/us how important living by the life of Jesus must be in how the Body lives together! The Body Christ living this kind of life, His life of love together, will provide God a home! God be at home in this place!


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