What Faith Should Look Like
Sunday, August 27th, we started a journey through one of the most misunderstood, but most marvelous and meaningful, books in the New Testament, the Epistle of James. James is called a general Epistle, which means it is not written to a specific church community, but rather to the Christian Community at large. While it was designed to appeal to Christians in Jerusalem in 52 A.D., its message still speaks to us today with penetrating power and purpose. It offers wonderful words of wisdom for the Christian’s walk and witness.
This letter of James was written for the second stage of a Christian’s journey – the journey INWARD. The doctrine of justification by faith had already been established as the standard in the Christian community, and so James wants to take us a step further. He writes words of instructions on how our lives as Christians are to make a positive difference in the world. We are not working for our salvation – that has already been accomplished. Instead, we are working as an expression of our gratitude for the gift of salvation we have already received.
Unfortunately, James saw a gap between what the church believed and what the church lived out. The faith community was falling short of its goal. So the Holy Spirit inspired James, this half brother of Jesus, to write an “Instruction Manual” for the daily living out of the Christian Faith. His premise was that we must not only speak the Christian faith for everyone to hear; we must also try to live out the Christian faith for everyone to see and feel. For James, this faith depended not only on outward expressions (words and actions) but also on how far those words traveled on their inward journey to the heart.
On the 27th we looked at where James begins his teaching about the journey of faith. After he introduces himself as a servant, of the Lord Jesus Christ (not a celebrity because there are far too many of those around who make it all about themselves), he immediately tackles -head on – the reality of “troubles” in the Christian journey. Notice that James does not say “if’ troubles will come; he says “when.” He already presupposes that every human being, including the Christian, will experience trials, troubles and temptations in life. The biblical perspective on trouble is that it is an ever-present reality. James wants it to be known up-front that faith in Christ does not promise deliverance from trouble. As we look at this reality in verse twelve of chapter 1, we are assured that we can survive it–and even become stronger and more sensitive to the troubles of others. As believers, we understand that we cannot AVOID the times of darkness – they will come. But we also understand that our darkness is always followed by light, cross gives way to crown, death is defeated by Resurrection.
I would invite you to come share in this journey through the Epistle of James. You may not always like what James has to say, but it will help you understand what God wants to have your Christian faith look like as it is lived out in the world around you,