This reading is James 2.
Greetings! Here are a few thoughts on James 2. Please read along and comment if you like.
The first passage is about not showing favoritism toward the wealthy. I realize that churches are sometimes homogeneous because they simply reflect the economic situation of the surrounding community. But I really appreciate diversity within the church. After all, what we truly have in common is that we are sinners in need of a savior and that we are followers of Christ. The rest of the differences – skin color, age, economic status, clothes, etc. – seem to matter now but won’t in eternity. How can we ensure that we send a truly welcoming message to everyone who walks through our doors – executives, bikers, rich, poor, etc.? I love my church, but I wish we were more diverse.
James says that showing favoritism is a serious sin and reminds us that breaking one of God’s laws is like breaking the whole law. Then he reminds us that mercy triumphs over judgment. That is the good news for the day.
The next section is the faith versus works debate, which has generated tons of discussion over the years. At one point in his life, Martin Luther didn’t think the Book of James should even be in the Bible because he thought it said we are saved by works (He later changed his mind). At the risk of oversimplifying the situation, I approach the debate this way: We are saved by grace, through faith, and real faith will produce real works. If we just say we have faith and have no sustained works to back it up, our faith is not real. If I really believe that Jesus is God and I am putting my trust in Him as my savior, then it follows that I would attempt to obey Him. If I am doing good deeds without faith in Jesus, then my motive is probably to make myself look good. Those deeds won’t save anyone; in fact, they expose the sin of pride.
The next reading is James 3.