Sermon: What a Christian Must Feel James 4 May 15, 2005
A bishop was visiting a church one day and was invited to dinner with the chairman of the board and his wife and daughter. During the meal the Bishop ask the little girl what she thought of church. She said that a person must be very brave to go to church. “Why do you say that?” asked the bishop. “Because,” she answered, “My Daddy told Mommy last Sunday that there was a big shot in the pulpit, the lay leader killed the spirit, the choir murdered the anthem, and the organist drowned everybody!”
It would seem that James would agree with the little girl you must be very brave to go to church for no sooner had he in Chapter 3 confronted believers about their tongues that he then jumps from the frying pan into the fire by confronting the church about internal fighting and quarreling. Conflict in the church has been a problem since the beginning of the church. There was fighting and quarreling among the twelve disciples over who was the greatest, Paul and Barnabus went their separate ways because of disagreement and fighting amongst themselves. The Jerusalem church was in conflict over who was and wasn’t acceptable in God kingdom. Denominations cut one another down. Churches split. Fights break out during church board meetings, in church parking lots. Christians slander and judge one another with critical spirit. Visitors and new believers find themselves in a cross fire of arguments, resentments and power struggles that may carry a veneer of spiritual truth but are more often simply when one person’s wants conflicts with another’s. Many of us know people who have been alienated from the church because of a conflict that had nothing to do with the gospel.
James doesn’t waste time saying that these conflicts shouldn’t occur. He is a realist. He knows whenever a group of earthly being get together there is going to be conflict whether that is in the context of a family, work, home or the church. In fact he says that there are three areas of conflict within our lives: Conflict with others, conflict within ourselves and conflict with God. And he doesn’t beat around the bush about it. He gets right to the point. He says those conflicts are because in VS. 2: you want something and you don’t get it. Ouch!
James is pretty blunt, but think about it? Think about the last time you had a fight with your spouse or significant other, the last time you had a fight with your roommate or best friend. The last fight you had with your children – which was probably this morning while you were trying to get ready for church. Think about the fights you have had in church with church members. Wasn’t it about what you wanted verse what they wanted. I mean we couch it in terms of spirituality – we are doing what God wants, but most of the time the person we are arguing with in church also believes what they are saying and doing is what God wants.
Even when it comes to our personal relationship with God our biggest problems, are biggest difficulties with the Word is when it conflicts with what we want. When God asks us to do something we don’t want to do like give up a particular sin, give up our hatred for someone else, give up our critical, judgmental spirit, forgive somebody we don’t want to forgive, give money we don’t want to give, trust him when we would rather fix it ourselves our way. We don’t pray when should pray. We are self sufficient. We look to the wrong source. We look to people to fulfill our needs instead of looking to God. James says even when we do pray we often pray with the wrong motives. We ask for things in a selfish way. We pray about what we want. We pray that God will reveal the truth to the other person – the truth being what we want. We pray God will change the other person to think and be more like us.
We plan our futures based on ourselves, we boast about tomorrow. What our career plans are, what kind of house we are going to get, how much money we are going have, the kind of husband or wife we will have. When we describe retirement we speak in selfish terms as it finally being our time to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Those things in of themselves are not wrong. What is wrong is when God isn’t our first priority. When we aren’t first seeking His Will, His desires, His kingdom, when we don’t fully depend and trust God to handle things. Especially when we are in conflict – we start fighting with someone at home, at work or in the church how many times do we first stop and pray. No instead we have the fight and then we pray God fix them.