Here we are finally in the last chapter of James making a slow descent toward the runway to land this thing. We’ll be taking just the first half of chapter 5 today and finishing up next time.
As I’ve been saying all along, James’ letter addresses and undresses classism, the idea and lifestyle that one human is better than another based on external factors, like economics and social standing. You can’t be the kind of Christian that James, to say nothing of his half-brother Jesus, approve of, and at the same time, judge the relative worth of other humans based on their socioeconomic success or race or any external factor.
As in previous posts, I’ll be whetting your appetite with some hors d’oeuvres from my podcast on these verses from James 5. Please listen to the brief-ish audio and share it with someone you love!
“A final word to you arrogant rich: Take some lessons in lament. You’ll need buckets for the tears when the crash comes upon you. Your money is corrupt and your fine clothes stink. Your greedy luxuries are a cancer in your gut, destroying your life from within. You thought you were piling up wealth. What you’ve piled up is judgment.” The Message Bible
“Making a killing” to describe a good financial deal in stock market or real estate market is an interesting colloquialism, don’t you think? Who or what is being “killed” and who benefitted from the killing? Continue reading →
I heartily recommend a book by Christopher Heuertz and Christine D. Pohl called,Friendship at the Margins: Discovering Mutuality in Service and Mission (Resources for Reconciliation)
One of my least resistible inclinations these days is to befriend people on the margins. It’s something I get to spend more of my time doing than ever before in my up-until-recently white middle-class life. [Well, the white part hasn’t changed except in my mind.] But I can’t say that it’s been without its challenges. Not being the most patient person God ever made, I struggle at times with compassion fatigue over the sometimes glacially sluggish spiritual progress of some of my friends in the street. This book came at a good time for me.
Pohl is professor of social ethics at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky and Heuertz is a contemplative activist who founded a ministry called “Word Made Flesh” that is incarnationally located among the poorest of the poor in a number of nations. Heuertz is not only a firebrand follower of Jesus and lover of the poor, but he’s a brilliant thinker and engaging author. I love his other books, Simple Church and Living Missionally. But of the three, this one on the practice of friendship-making among the weak and unnoticed people of the world
impacted me the most. Continue reading →
You might’ve discerned by now that “simplicity” is a recurring theme of mine as well as something I aspire to live out in my own life. In terms of money and the material it affords, I think the Western Church has migrated to lands unimaginable to the first followers of Jesus. The way we view the material and how we use it would be as foreign to them as their ways, if we’re honest, are to us. It’s not bad to have a lot of money. In fact, it’s good to have a lot so we can help those who don’t have enough. If you think about it from a biblical vantage point, that’s the real value of money, to share it. “He must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.”
You say, “Yeah, but Paul said that God ‘gives us richly all things to enjoy.’” A crowd favorite verse in many churches.
That’s true, but then Jesus said “It’s better to give than to receive.” So if we blend those two together it seems clear that God gives us things richly to enjoy, and the best way to enjoy them is to share them with people who don’t have enough. I don’t know about you, but receiving makes me pretty happy, but if giving is even better than that, then I want to get on with giving! Continue reading →
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-15
As I said in Part 1, Jesus was so fond of the light-on-a-stand metaphor that he used it in several of his teachings in order to make a number of disparate, yet not discordant points. We’ve looked at how he employed it tell us that he wants us to catch the light that he radiates, now in this passage he tells us to radiate that same light so others can catch it. He bequeathed to us the job of being the “light of the world.”
In the previous parables, God put the light out there and it’s up to us to have eyes to see it. The quality of our sight determines what we can receive. In this one, it’s required of us to emit all we’ve obtained. Let me say this in a number of ways… Continue reading →
I gave a primer on the topic of Simplicity in both blog and podcast form. After that I shared two symptoms of a simple life: sincerity and spontaneity. Here I share in outlinish form about Simplicity and Stuff, you know, possessions, money, and just stuff. I put some meat on these bare bones in a podcast talk by the same name (Simplicity and Stuff) if you’re interested to know more.
It’s not particularly fashionable to talk this way these days, especially, and unfortunately in Christian circles. So many of us have overlooked this major theme in Scripture and have gone the opposite direction. In the name of God, many have pursued and accumulated more and more stuff.