Summary: What a Christian Has

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Part of a sermon series on the Book of James. What a Christian has: trials and tribulations, temptation, joy wisdom and freedom.

A Recipe for Real Religion by Lewis Fawcett. Get religion like a Methodist, experience it like a Baptist; stick to it like a Lutheran; conciliate it like a Congregationalist. Be proud of it like an Episcopalian. Simplify it like a Quaker. Glorify it like a Jew Pray for it like a Presbyterian. Work at it like the Salvation Arm. Propagate it like a Roman Catholic. Enjoy it like an [African American].

Religion, faith, the marks of true Christian what are they and do we have them? The book of James is a practical book on ethical living as opposed to religious doctrine like we find in Romans. It is a short, concise book of practical thoughts on Christian living. The author of James is not the disciple James but the half brother of Jesus. He was a leader in the early church of Jerusalem. Some say he was their first pastor or bishop whatever the case he initially welded a great deal of power yet note how he begins his letter. VS 1 Some translations read bond servant or slave of God. He begins the letter with great humility as a man wholly devoted, obedient and loyal to Jesus Christ. And then he gets right to the point. I like Dr. Tony Evans translation of verse 1: My name is James, Jesus is Lord, now let’s get to it. James does not waste words or space he gets to the point this is Christian living.

In Chapter one he gives us five things that the Christian has and challenges us to live them out. VS 2. Christian life will have trials and tribulations. The Greek word used here implies trouble or something that breaks the pattern of peace, comfort, joy and happiness in someone’s life. The word “face” as in you will face trials” suggests that one is surrounded by people, objects, and circumstances that will try one’s faith. James didn’t have to tell us that Christian life includes trials and tribulations.

All I have to do is look around the room and call on just about any one of you to testify to that fact, from disease and illness to financial and family struggles to child custody battles and problems at work. We got the trials and tribulations covered. But, James’ focus is not on the events themselves but on our attitude in the midst of them. He says the second thing that Christians should have in their life is an attitude of joy, not just simple, quite, little joy, the word here means ecstatic joy. As If it isn’t enough to have these problems but now we have to have them and be happy, happy, happy about it.

But that is not exactly what James is calling for here. We need to be careful to understand his words. He is not suggesting some kind of masochistic happiness in the hurts and losses of life. He is not suggesting that we manufacture some kind of other-worldly, phony sense of joy about our troubles. We need to dismiss our modern notion of joy and happiness as linked to immediate gratification and full satiety of our wants and desires. The kind of joy that he is talking about is the kind of joy that understands sacrifice in the present life for the attainment of the future good.

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