Summary: A sermon that looks at what a living and active faith comprises
James 2:14-18 Enriched and enriching or a whole lot of nonsense?
I’ve spent some time lately in the veggie garden; I enjoy the sights and sounds of the garden growing. The beans quietly stretching up through the soil, the tomato plant as it battles against the spring cold with its occasional dash of yellow that may grow into a plump orange fruit, the burst of colour of the salad lettuces, and all the time the work of the honey bees as they zip from raspberry flower to raspberry flower, and the odd drone of fat bumble bee as it joins in the work, taking its turn in the production of a fine accompaniment to vanilla ice-cream. I enjoy the garden for what it produces, and the process of the production.
Hands up the gardeners, hands up those who enjoy a good feed of veggies, hands up who enjoy fruit, and hands up those who like honey or ice-cream. Did I miss anyone? Have you heard of scurvy?
Think about this we can get our veggies from the garden, from a bag at the supermarket, or precooked at a restaurant but somewhere before the eating there had to be action on someone or something’s behalf for the produce to be on the plate. In his letter James delivers a message about work or deeds that is relevant to the garden and to our everyday Christian journey.
The book of James is one of my favourites, in fact after the gospels it is probably my favourite book in the bible. It contains some really great teaching for all who would follow the way of Christ. I would suggest that if you haven’t spent much time in this book; get some place alone and read it all. It’s only five chapters long and full of wisdom.
Who was this James? It is thought that he was actually a brother of Jesus, who until Jesus appeared to him after his resurrection, was a critic of who challenged Jesus and misunderstood his mission. Paul writes in First Corinthians 15:7-8 “Then he (Jesus) appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. “
Prior to my really getting into this sermon; think about this, if James who incidentally was also a leader in the Jerusalem council, and a pillar of the early church, came to believe and I mean really believe in his brother as the Christ after the resurrection, why would we be left in any doubt as to the truth. His conversion along with the conversion of Paul I believe are two of the most important pointers to Jesus resurrection being evidenced and accepted by non-believers.
James starts this part of the letter after giving the fellow brothers in the early church the message about showing favoritism which was apparently a bit of a problem back then, but (sarcastically) we wouldn’t do that would we; after all that was then and this is now.
The question he starts with is “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?” He adds to the question with,”Can such faith save him?” I think he’s answered his own question.
He then asks “suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead.
James even compares faith with out works as being like the body without the spirit, as in deceased, dead done finished. In verse twenty six, he says “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”
1) When we come to a relationship with God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us as our comforter, helper, friend and encourager. We come to faith, however we are not only saved for our own sake, we are saved to be part of and play our part in God’s kingdom, God wants us to have a relationship with Him and to enhance our relationships with others. As Salvationists we say we are saved to serve. Some point to the ‘S’ on each shoulder and say that it is there to show we are “saved to serve.”
Change occurs, we become part of community, part of the body of Christ, it’s no longer all about me. It is now about God and community, about all of us. So if one of us is in need and we have what is needed, we have a need also. Our need is too meet our brother or sisters need! Not to meet the need as one who is the rescuer but as one who is a servant. (repeat)