James 2:1-13 – Part 1

We’re currently looking (intently) at the letter of James, which is all about the temptation to be double-minded: trying to be friends with God and friends with the world. (See Monday’s post if you missed the intro to the series, as it’s foundational for all of the others.) Over the next three days we’re focusing on James 2:1-13.

Playing the status game

In 2004, philosopher and author Alain de Botton wrote a book called Status Anxiety – all about the status game and why we play it. He observed that our desire to rise in the social hierarchy is not primarily motivated by the material things we accumulate or the power we can wield. Our desire for status is more driven by the amount of love that we stand to receive as a result of having a higher status. Money, fame, and influence are not simply ends in themselves, but a way to get what we really crave – to be loved and accepted by others. He writes:

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James 2:1-13 – Part Two

We’re currently studying the letter of James, which is all about the temptation to be double-minded: trying to be friends with God and friends with the world. This is part two of a three-part look at James 2:1-13 – if you’re just joining us, check out last Friday’s post first.

Jesus and James subvert the status game

But Jesus himself called his followers to a totally different way of life, were wealth and influence is not a badge of honour. Instead, Jesus turned things upside down and said that honour is found in servanthood:

Lk 22:25-26 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.

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James 2:1-13 – Part Three

We’re currently studying the letter of James, which is all about the temptation to be double-minded: trying to be friends with God and friends with the world. This is part three of a three-part look at James 2:1-13 – if you’re just joining us, check out last Friday’s post first.

A sobering warning

Now when we read Bible passages  like this one we’ve been studying for the past three days, we often miss making an important connection. Sin isn’t just doing something that’s wrong. Sin is also not doing something that’s right. But we often forget that to ignore God’s word in this way is sin. Or we’re tempted to dismiss these kinds of sins as ‘little ones’ at best. ‘Favouritism’ – doesn’t sound like a capital crime, now, does it?

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James 2:14-26 – Part One

We’re currently studying the letter of James, which is all about the temptation to be double-minded: trying to be friends with God and friends with the world. Over the next three days we’re focusing on James 2:14-26.

Words and actions

The greatest lie of the twenty-first century has nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction, the carbon tax, or gifted bottles of 1959 vintage Grange. It’s never been the subject of an ICAC inquiry, and the media is happy to for it to be perpetuated day after day, without comment.

The defining untruth of our generation is not some grand political cover-up, but is far more subtle; far more common. It’s that seemingly innocuous 6-word phrase we hear so often: ‘your call is important to us’.

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James 2:14-26 – Part Two

We’re currently studying the letter of James, which is all about the temptation to be double-minded: trying to be friends with God and friends with the world. This is part two of a three-day look at James 2:14-26.

This passage is a difficult one, not just because of the sobering challenge it gives us (see yesterday’s post if you missed it). It’s also difficult because it appears to stand in contrast to the teaching of Paul about salvation by grace. For this reason Martin Luther thought it probably shouldn’t be in the NT; in his German translation he puts it as the last book and refers to it as ‘an epistle of straw’. And it is a difficult question: how do we resolve the gospel that says we are made right with God by faith – with James’ argument that faith without works is dead?

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James 2:14-26 – Part Three

We’re currently studying the letter of James, which is all about the temptation to be double-minded: trying to be friends with God and friends with the world. This is part three of a three-day look at James 2:14-26.

After our detour yesterday (watching the title bout between Paul and James) we come back to the question James raised at the start:

2:14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?

James, Paul, and Jesus would all say a resounding ‘no’. Faith without actions is dead. It might be the kind of faith that made the crowds follow Jesus early on. But when they heard about the cost of discipleship, many turned back, leaving only those with true faith. Faith which saves. Do you have that saving faith?

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