Yes, I promise I completed my in depth month into James, but I didn’t post on it for the last couple of weeks. So, better late than never, here are my posts on James 4 and 5.
James chapter 4 is like an 80s CCM lyric explosion. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” “Come near to God and God will come near to you.” “Humble yourselves before the Lord.”
I almost cannot read it without breaking into song.
But, at it’s bottom line, James 4 is the same as the two that have come before – it’s about acting rightly. Doing good, seeking God.
James 4 begins with words and warnings on fighting with others – and reminds us that our poor behavior towards others begins within ourselves. This is not an easy thing to wrap our minds around, since we like to blame others and see the worst in those around us.
The chapter comes to a head at verse 7 – reminding us to submit to God. Again, I think we recoil at this imagery, because we’ve been raised in a culture where being on top is best, being powerful is important and being dominant in all things is seen as a strength. James challenges this ideal of dominance, and calls us to put God where God belongs and us where we belong. And if it weren’t clear enough, James concludes his 4th chapter with a reminder that in the grand scheme of things, we aren’t actually that big of a deal. “what is your life? You are mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (14)
Wow. Way to bring down the room, James.
But really – as harsh as it seems – it’s an important reminder of who is in charge (HINT: it’s not you or me). I think we need the harshness, the bluntness of James here. It’s not comfortable, but it’s truth.
Continuing on into chapter 5, James has harsh words for the wealthy that make money on the backs of others. We should listen to these words as well…for we play roles in this same system that James is talking about. It’s important for us to know where our food and clothing come from, and if the people helping to make them are being fairly compensated. Why? Because their lives matter to God and should matter to us.
James writes to just those people who are being mistreated as well, and reminds them that God is coming to be with them, to rescue them, to show them love and compassion.
James concludes his whole letter with a reminder that no matter what the circumstance, we should pray. “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (16)
So there is James.
A book of action. And the kind of action that I want to try to actually do. Not just read and say that sounds great and then go back to doing what I always do. No – James calls us to change, to be aware and open to the actions of God at work in the world and then not to just stand there watching but to GO AND JOIN IN with what God is doing in the world.