At our church, we’ve been preaching through the book of James. I’ve mentioned here how amazing it would be if the news media announced (not fake news…real news), that an archaeological discovery had been made. That a document written by a relative of Jesus of Nazareth had been found, dated just 10 years or so after Jesus’ death. Well, that is what we have contained in all our Bibles–whether they be on our bedside tables or on our phones.
We are nearly halfway through our study. And, my prayer is that this series does not remain on a shelf, along with other books of the Bible we have studied. Rather, that Jesus will move us to reflect on these words deeply, and listen to where the Lord is calling us to be changed.
There are three main themes that James returns to throughout this letter. Trials, wisdom, and riches and poverty. These were things that James’ audience was facing, and these are the same things we face. It is difficult to keep our eyes focused on God when we face trials. We need wisdom and discernment, as we are faced with hundreds of decisions each day, some of which will chart our course for our lives. We see poverty all around us, and abundant wealth. How do we use what God has given us, and how are we called to help those in need? The three themes of James are timeless.
We entitled our series “Unshaken” because it is clear that James is pointing us to a life that is unshaken by things like difficulty, doubt, anger, or appearances. In addition, James “shakes” us with his bold calls to action. “Faith without works is dead,” he says. Words like these force us to examine our individual lives of walking with Jesus, and our corporate lives as a church. What are we doing to reflect the fact that Christ is alive in us? In Jesus’ words, how are we letting our light so shine before others, “that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16).
It is timely that we are studying these words. We’ve been given an opportunity here in the city of Sacramento to partner with a number of other churches, and the E49 Corporation to help build a “tiny village” of homes for the homeless. We will be setting aside Sunday, April 30th as a church to help construct these homes, prepare the site with landscaping, and enlist our children and seniors to help make those houses homes. We are excited about putting our faith into action. Here is more about the Compassion Village.
In the final chapters of the letter, we will find James returning to these themes again. He will tell us about two different kinds of wisdom, and where wisdom begins. He will challenge those who seek to use wealth for personal gain. James will give us a picture of how to endure suffering and trials. Finally, he calls us all to believe in the power of prayer.
Written a long time ago, with words that still ring true. May we be shaken by these bold words of James, to live lives unshaken.
Question for reflection: How has the Lord been speaking to you through these words of James?