James 1 (Being Risen Above the Rough)

This is going to be an interesting book. I decided to run through it with everyone. Considering the recent economic problems and the recent elections that threaten to turn the political tide. I think it’s important to look at Scriptures as a representation of something that is not America, although it shows us that we must be Christ in the American context.

Let’s start with James 1.

Paul starts with his greeting to the believers in verse 1. You may be wondering how that works with the term “twelve tribes” which would be thought to be Jews. Is James not addressing the Jewish people? I would say not. In the Early Church, the believers thought they were the new Jerusalem. In this case, the reference to Judaism actually Christianity. That’s enough about that matter. Let’s move to the more important things.

Verses 2-8 deal with the oppression of the believers. Oppression for these guys was not always violent, though it could get that way every now and then. Sometimes they had trouble making money because they would not take part in the idol worship of the towns. If you wanted to run a business successfully, you had to give in to the status quo (much like American business practices worshipping money over human dignity and creation sanctity). But God promises that if we are faithful, he will provide. Wisdom is one example. Here wisdom might be the simple ability to discern proper courses of action.

But the provisions are not important (pay close attention if you are part of the Health and Wealth Theology movement). What is important is that the believers are faithful (verses 6-8). If we are not faithful, it doesn’t matter what provisions we receive. We will be judged, found wanting, and stripped of what makes us look good.

In Verses 9-18, we all see that God is good and nothing less. It is evident that God (through Christ) has done something for the rich, so that they could be humbled into more Christian living, and the poor, so that they could have someone to boast in as their rescuer. According to James, the bad things that everyone does comes directly from our own carnal nature. It’s funny that he doesn’t mention Satan as the tempter, which may cause some interesting conversation for how people can run from temptation. But I won’t dwell on that issue. What is important is that God is faithful, so we should be too (this sounds like “be holy as your heavenly father is perfect”).

In Verse 19-21 tells us that anger is the last thing we want. It doesn’t produce righteousness. Now note that the earlier context is about the poor and their plight in a place they cannot have success in starting a business. It would be easy to get angry (which is an issue with America since our unemployment rate is higher than normal). James does not want revenge, revolution, or roadside bombs going off.

The deepest level is when James mentions the Word. Now most may think this is sola scriptura. Although I respect Scripture as having authority over any pope, bishop, or superintendent, I don’t think the Word of God is that simple. Go read the first of the Gospel of John and you see that it is Christ too. There is something bigger. The prophets keep repeating that God said something.

Maybe God’s Word is when God speaks.

Maybe its connected more to God’s deepest desires for His creation.

When we think of God’s Word, we should think of God speaking.

Like Job,

Like Moses,

Like Jesus,

Like James.

God spoke to and/or through these characters in Scripture.

In a sense, living God’s dreams for humanity is being the word of God. If Christ was the Word of God in flesh…in action, should we not as Christians follow in the steps of our teacher and savior? Should we not be the Word of God? Should we not fulfill God’s dreams for humanity? Should we stand aside when big business or big government takes advantage of everyone else? Should we teach our kids to be true to ourselves and end up not worrying about others? Should we simply follow the rules and not buck the system?

I think God has something better. Not in our anger or revenge, but in our love and sharing.

Grace and peace to you all.

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