Sunday 23rd of October is a day the church remembers the brother of Jesus Christ, James. Going on to play an integral part in the development of the church and the spread of the gospel, James became regarded as a leader of the Jewish community while Paul and others began to take the gospel, with its radical inclusion, to the Gentiles. James brought many Jewish people to faith in Christ and eventually became a bishop, sitting at the Council of Jerusalem. He was eventually martyred for his faith by stoning in 62AD.
James lived and shared the gospel during great times of change. The institution in which he had been brought up was changing, the government was not one of his choosing, the people were disheartened, the faith of his ancestors seemed to have perhaps stilted under a desire to preserve the law.
Yet, having encountered the risen Jesus, James could do nothing but share the good news; quite a reversal from when he perhaps thought Jesus had lost his mind (cf John 7: 1-5 to 1 Corinthians 15:7 and Acts 1:14).
James spoke to those who he knew loved God but had perhaps yet to hear the full gospel, he shared the wonder and amazement of the risen Jesus, in confidence of bringing them liberation from hopelessness, and religious rigidity.
In our world today, we have many of the same problems. We might have not voted or wanted our government and their decisions, we might feel the established religion has become too rigid concerned more with the law than love, and hope is sometimes hard to find in the hearts of people. Perhaps James’ commitment to sharing the joy and liberation of the gospel in a sensitive, caring manner is a challenge we could take up today. As James did, perhaps we should begin with those we already love and care for; maybe those who already know God. Yet James’ care and sensitivity as a servant leader was poured out for others too such as gentiles. James offers us an example of a servant leader who desires peace within the church, with an emphasis on grace over law and care for those outside the church.
How can we encourage one another to live to James’ example?