Summary: So often in the Church we pretend that everything is perfect, but truth is, it isn’t. The book of James offers insight into how to cure this ailment.
Intro: Do you ever walk in to a church service and begin to question the validity of the perfection that’s displayed?
Do you ever look around at the people and ask “Is there anyone in here who fails?” or “Has anyone fallen down in their walk with God lately?”
“Am I really the only one here today that feels about this big?”
Do you ever think that your needs are too small for God or the church to care about?
You notice that when you look around everybody else seems so strong; some kind of perfect super-saints.
You begin to get anxious. You begin asking yourself, “What if they find out I’ve messed up? What if they discover that I don’t belong here? What will happen then?”
So you begin to conform to the atmosphere. You put on a fake smile and laugh and hug everyone. You fake this role of a “church-goer.”
You rationalize in your head that by putting on this mask and hiding your shortcomings, than everyone who is in attendance won’t suspect a thing-everything is perfect!
After so long of this, you begin to get comfortable; its second nature. We tuck away our problems; if we can make other people believe that you are perfect then that’s exactly what they’ll see you as. They’ll accept you; there won’t be any questions…but then the guilt begins to seep into your conscience.
Has this been you? Have you run through these thoughts in your head? Do you wear a painted smile every Sunday?
Let me suggest something to you: This is NOT the way it was ever supposed to be!
As the line from the Casting Crowns songs asks: “Are we happy plastic people under shiny plastic steeples with walls around our weakness and smiles that hide our pain?”
Is there anyone who’s been there? Are their any hands to raise?
Have we traded in the grace and forgiveness of God and others into a stage that represents an alternate reality like a TV sitcom?
I know I have.
Folks that is a BIG problem.
We should be able at ANY time to come to our brothers and sisters and confess our wrong-doings, needs, and ask for prayer and support.
The book of James has the most incredible thing to say about the Church and the Christian:
Read James 5:13-20
James is a very practical book. It is typically in Jewish form and content and is reminiscent of “Wisdom” literature (esp. 3:13-17) and contains characteristically Jewish ethical teaching. The author of this book identifies himself with the phrase “James, a bond servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (NKJV). Though there are differences of opinion, there is a lot of evidence that James is one of the oldest books in the New Testament.
James begins this section of his letter in Chapter 5 and verse 13.
It is interesting that this last section seems to have very little ties to any of the previous sections of the letter, but rather addresses our need for prayer and confession to God and one another no matter our sin or needs.
Read James 5:13
The word “suffering” here seems to imply more than illness or disease.
The Greek word used here literally means to suffer (endure) evils (hardships, troubles).
The King James Version translates this pretty well by using the word “afflicted” instead of “suffering.”
Anyone here right now who is afflicted either physically, spiritually, or emotionally?
So what are we to do?
The text says, “…let him pray…”
Prayer is the solution to trouble. It is the Christian’s 24 hour a day access to the inconceivable power of God!
How often we fail to utilize prayer! Maybe if we stopped and prayed more the world would be in a lot better shape than it is today!
James then asks “Is anyone cheerful?”
James is asking is there anyone here who’s feeling extremely positive today. Are you in good spirits? Are you overflowing with the joy of your salvation?
He tells that person to “sing praise.”
Have you ever been driving in your car or going about your day and you think of the joy God has given you and you just begin to sing to yourself?
That is what this verse is implying! Turn your inward joy into outward worship! Let God know you are grateful for what He has given you!
Even if you aren’t going through the greatest time in your life singing to God can bring peace.
You know, a Christian psychiatrist told me that singing an hour of praise and worship songs a day had the same effect on the brain as any prescription anti-depressant! Praising God is powerful, folks!
James switches gears a bit here and deals specifically with illness.