1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. – James 1:1
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I hope this finds you well.
For those of us who have been able to hear the current sermon series on James, I wonder how you are finding it? James talks about issues that are common to all of us. He talks about suffering, fighting temptation, how we use our tongues, putting our faith into action, worldly thinking and selfishness. At times he is very direct and hard- hitting. He certainly doesn’t pull his punches. The one on the tongue I found particularly challenging, and I know from conversations with others that I was not the only one. This hard-hitting stuff can make us feel uncomfortable but that is a good thing. It’s a sign that God’s word is doing its work in us by the power of his Holy Spirit. And if that is you, you should feel encouraged despite maybe feeling uncomfortable. This might also make us picture James as an unloving, uncaring headmaster who thinks he is better than us. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. James is not unloving or uncaring. He does not think he is bigger and better than us. He loves the church deeply and he longs to serve the church. This is seen in the start of his letter. As the half-brother of Jesus he could have started his letter by saying “James, the half-brother of the Lord Jesus Christ.” But he doesn’t use his biological relationship with Jesus as a way of pulling rank over people. In fact, he does not use his family connection at all! Instead he starts off by saying “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Describing himself this way displays his great humility and his deep desire to serve God the Father, God the Son, and their church. He displays his love for the church in the way he addresses the people he is writing to; 13 times he calls them “Brothers and Sisters.” Choosing to address them this way displays something of his deep love and affection for them. He sees them as his very family. He challenges them because he wants what is best for them. His love and humility shows us that James was not just a hearer of the word but that he was also a doer. He did not just talk the talk but he walked the walk. And he calls us to do the same. He calls us to love and serve God the Father, God the Son and others. So as a church let’s hear his challenge to us and let’s make sure that, with God’s help, we are those who love God and serve.
Yours in Christ,