James 3 (Can you see me now?)

Now, for James 3, I have to begin by disagreeing with a “traditional” interpretation of the beginning of this chapter. But if you hang in there, it will make sense.

Most people take the first two verses as declaring that God will judge the those who teach the Church more harshly. And it’s an easy mistake to make. But there is a slight problem that has to be explained away. In Revelation and other books, the final judgement will be based on one identifying themselves within Christ and His Kingdom. We must consider the alternative with this verse, that it is not God doing the judging, but everyone else.

What happened when Jim Jones and Jimmy Swaggart did their acts. What happens when we see young and old pastors commit marital affairs, financial misconduct, or whatever sin you can think of…

The world judges.

The world has a mind. And sometimes it’s not so far gone that it can’t tell basic morality, even apart from Christ.

Now read verses 3-6. It begins to make sense that we have been given the power to guide the Church. But we see in verses 7-12 that we must be very careful. If we are careless, we become a Church of evil, which produces no faith, hope, and love, but instead produces suspicion, fear, and hate.

It is then that James begins to say things that most Churches trying to be relevant don’t want to hear. Verse 13 implores us to live out holiness. And we all want that. But if we are the bitter jealous man in verse 14 that has a heart that desires to bring trouble, at least be honest and get out.

That seems terrible since some may assume that the sinner should leave. But it’s actually saying that those who want to cause problems should leave, not the ones searching for hope.

If you want the stage light or have an agenda that is for you alone to progress, then the Church is not for you.

And here is where James turns into a man deeply grounded in Wisdom style literature (think Job, Psalm, Proverbs, Ecclessiastes, etc.)

The man who is of God’s higher wisdom is described in verses 17-18 as someone better…

as someone peaceful…

as someone gentle…

open to conversation with others…

very merciful…

and he works for good.

This is a good man.

James isn’t so much worried about the judgement, since he believes that Christians have nothing to worry about through Christ. But we are the ones who are moving heaven into this world, and that takes a person who is willing to sacrifice a selfish worldview for a Godly one.

Grace and peace to you all.