Summary: This five part sermon series explores the book of James, and discovers what real faith looks like in real life. Each sermon is expository and alliterated. Power point is available.
Real Faith for Real Life: James One
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 9/30/2012
You know one of the best things about the church is that it’s like a family, which is also one of the worst things about the church. Families don’t always get along.
It is like the story of a mother who heard her seven-year-old son screaming. She runs into the next room to see what is wrong, and discovers her two-year-old daughter is pulling her brother’s hair. The mother gets the baby’s hand unclenched and says, “I’m sorry, honey. Your sister doesn't know what it feels like to have her hair pulled.”
The mother goes back into the kitchen when she hears the daughter screaming. She runs back into the room and says, “What happened?”
The boy answered, “She knows what it feels like now.”
Do you imagine Jesus’ family was like that? I wonder sometimes how he got along with his brothers and sisters. Jesus had a younger brother named James and I can only imagine what it must have been like for him growing up in Jesus’ shadow. Can’t you just hear Mary saying, “Why can’t you be more like your brother Jesus?”
When Jesus first started his ministry, James thought he was crazy. In fact, he never really believed in Jesus, until Jesus died and rose again. But after Jesus rose from the grave and appeared to him, James not only became a believer, but a leader in the Jerusalem church. He even wrote one of the books of the New Testament.
As Jesus’ brother, James had a unique perspective and a unique faith. I think James was a pretty down-to-earth guy. Before he believed, he didn’t want his brother going off any flights of fancy. He was happy being a carpenter. He was concerned with real needs in the real world. But once he saw the evidence and became convinced that his older brother really was the Son of God, not just the son of Mary, he had real faith. And that shows up in his writing.
All throughout his letter, James defines real faith and how it works in real life. He deals with the real troubles that we all endure, the real temptations that Christians face, and the real truth about Jesus. James is all about where the rubber meets the road—real faith for real life. And he starts his letter by talking about Christians and their burdens.
• CHRISTIANS AND THEIR BURDENS
In regard to the burdens we bear and the trial we face, James makes once of the most peculiar statements. He says, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (James 1:2 NLT).
Is there anyone here who understands trouble? Big-time trouble? I’m not talking about you lost your keys trouble or you and your wife had an argument on the way to church trouble. I’m talking about huge, faith-shaking trouble—the kind of trouble that makes you look toward heaven and just belted out, “Why, God!?” Do you ever feel like God is just some bully that keeps knocking you down and you wonder how you’re ever going to get back up?
Giraffes know all about that by the way.
In A View from the Zoo, Gary Richmond tells about the birth of a giraffe. It’s a rather strange thing. The first things to emerge are the baby giraffe’s front hooves and head. A few minutes later the plucky newborn is hurled forth, falls ten feet, and lands on its back. Within seconds, he rolls to an upright position with his legs tucked under his body. From this position he sees the world for the first time.
The mother giraffe lowers her head long enough to take a quick look. Then she positions herself directly over the calf. She waits for about a minute, and then she swings her long, pendulous leg outward and kicks her baby, so that it cartwheels head over heels.
If the baby doesn’t get up, she takes another swing at it. The struggle to rise is momentous. As the baby calf grows tired, the mother kicks it again to stimulate its efforts… Finally, the calf stands for the first time on its wobbly legs.
Then the mother giraffe does the most remarkable thing. She kicks it off its feet again. Why? She wants it to remember how it got up! In the wild, baby giraffes must be able to get up as quickly as possible to stay with the herd, where there is safety. Lions, hyenas, leopards, and wild hunting dogs would all love a baby giraffe dessert! If not for the mother’s seemingly cruel treatment, that baby wouldn’t last a day.