James 1: 1
1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. (NIV)
Why does James Write
Who would you write to, if you had news that was so good that it had to be shared? I mean, if you had been given a great gift you might just want to text all your friends the news. James isn’t much different. He has news that he feels must be shared.
James grew up with Jesus, and we know that there is question as to how much his brothers actually followed him. This may come from a misconception written about in Mark chapter 3 verses 21-35. Jesus’ “kinsmen” came to visit when he was in his hometown, and they tried stopping him from speaking. However, most of the passage speaks of confrontation with the local religious leaders. The fact is that the word many translate as family could mean any of the close friends or family. I may not have been his brothers at all, but other relatives upset by the stir Jesus was creating.
The apostle John mentions the disbelief of Jesus’ brothers, in the truth of Jesus as Messiah (John 7:5). They were waiting for him to show his power, like so many others, and it didn’t come in the way they expected.
Yet, we know that James and the others must have been watching and expecting, because they are with the apostles after the resurrection and the ascension (Acts 1:14). James not only was a follower, but he would rise to be one of the leaders of the church (Acts 12:17).
James was a devout Jew and was writing to those faithful Jews who had been scattered by the persecutions of Jews and Christians. They were being pushed out into the far reaches of the Roman world, and James is writing to them, because he wants to encourage them to remain faithful in their walk as followers of Christ. He wanted to be sure that people were living out their faith in the real world.
We are called to follow in the footsteps of the early believers, and to live our faith out not merely in word, but in action.
Does James Promote a teaching of Works over Faith?
Many people over the years have argued that there was dispute between Paul who preached “faith alone” (Romans 3:28 & 4:1-8) and James who speaks of “faith with out works is dead” (James 2:26). The fact is that the two were not far away from one another, but were actually speaking of both sides of the same coin. Both, teach that faith is needed for us to be saved, but that through that transformation the way we act the deeds that we do should reflect the faith that we now have.
We will learn as we go along that James wants us to deepen our faith, so that we may put faith into action. He wants us to live wise in a world that often wants to take us off track, and move our focus onto ourselves or other things instead of the eternal focus of growing in faith and acting in faith within the world.
God, bless us on this journey and help us to share your light, as we are transformed and renewed in your great love, mercy, and wisdom. May God Bless you this day, as you seek him out with all your heart soul, mind and spirit. May your life be blessed, so that you may bless others. Amen.