Summary: Our society values inclusiveness and acceptance. But sometimes the Bible presents us with a God that divides and separates. James 4:1=12 seems to be one of these passages. Or, is it?
In our society one of the worst things that can be said of us is, “They are so divisive”. Our society is all about inclusiveness. We are all about acceptance; all about respecting differences; all about making room for all.
That is what makes preaching from James 4:1-12 difficult. It is so divisive. Listen to these words from verse 6:
"You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that “he’s a fiercely jealous lover.” And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find."
Peterson, Eugene H. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005. Print.
Eugene Peterson may have tried to soften the blow a bit in his Message translation…but, the statement is still divisive, isn’t it!
Because of statements like these in the Bible, Christians are often accused of being divisive. But, what is actually causing the divisions? Christians? Non-Christians? Is God causing this?
Or is it the problem of sin?
A Definition of Sin
First John 3:4 “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.”
This is the best definition of sin that there is in the Bible. When you see the word “is” think about working with mathematics. The word “is” is really an equal sign so you could say that “sin = lawlessness.”
That is, sin is the breaking of God’s Law…so everyone who sins is breaking the Law of God and in rebellion to God’s will.
And, as we will see shortly, that leaves us all guilty for we are all sinners.
Have you ever noticed you don’t have to teach your kids to be rebellious against you and your authority?
Starts around 2 years old…they learn the word NO
They want to establish their independence … that they are separate from Mom and Dad.
Continues into Childhood
Then, puberty…where the rebellion escalates to include all authority…whether parental or societal.
In fact rebellion remains with us for a life-time.
So, from the two year old shouting NO
to President Trump saying he has no need of forgiveness because he has never done anything wrong…
to the dying words of 1950’s actress Joan Crawford who, when a nurse attempted to pray over her as she was dying, said, “don’t you dare ask God to help me.”
we are living in a world that is in rebellion!
But why? Why is this true? Why is our world surrounded by chaos…and, rebellion…and, hatred…and war?
This is a good question because St. Paul makes a statement about sin and how it came to be a problem for humans:
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man,
and death through sin,
and so death spread to all men
because all sinned
(18)Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men,
so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19
For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners,
so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016. Print.