This Sunday we’ll be looking at James 1:22-27.
When we left off last time, James made the statement that the word implanted in us was saving our souls. It seems as though this next section is a qualifier on that statement – a sort of means for testing the veracity of that claim. How is the word saving, redeeming our lives and identities? James is quick to let us know that the only way that redeeming agent of the word is active is when we are active in living out what it says. This is challenging. Martin Luther rejected this epistle because it sounded to him as though James were contradicting Paul about salvation by faith alone, apart from works.
But is that really what James is saying? Is he really trying to say that we are saved by DOING something? My contention is that he’s not saying that, but rather, he’s trying to keep us from falling into the trap of drifting along on the currents of this broken world and assuming that because we’re associated with God’s word we are experiencing redemption. Remember, salvation and redemption are not just aspects of some heavenly destination at the end of life, they are meant to be characteristics of our present journey. God is redeeming ruined things, making beautiful things out of broken ones. Our challenge is to live in harmony with that ongoing redemption. That is what I believe James to be saying.
As you consider this passage, what are some ways that we can hear the word without really doing what it says? I’ve known some very zealous believers who had their theology down to a tee, but who didn’t really embody what this word says.
How do you think the word of God is like a mirror? When he talks about “religion“, the word he’s using in the Greek connotes “worship practices”. How does James seem to describe acceptable worship in this passage – and how does it compare with your worship practices?
If you were to sum up what James is getting at, how would you word it in one sentence?
Heavy stuff, I know.