Friday, 19 September 2014
Searching for Authentic Faith Authentically: James 1:1-18
What does authentic Christianity look like, feel like taste like?
That was our question last week.
Now a second question. Are we willing to be authentic in our search for answers? After voicing our questions, can we listen, really listen, for the answers?
This week we’re opening the New Testament book of James together. We’re about to meet our guide to this discussion–James. This letter is him on paper, an expression of his mind, his personality, his heart. The answers to my questions are going to come through his voice.
Letting James Speak
When I’m looking for a new doctor, I come with a long list of questions. How qualified are you? How available are you? Do you understand my condition? But underneath the specifics I want to know if we can work together.
In order to let James speak, I have some questions for him.
- Can I trust him? If I believe the Bible is God’s Word, then yes. This isn’t just Jame’s word, it’s God’s. It I don’t believe that, I will listen to James differently.
- Will I understand him? Maybe, but it will take effort. He is not me. I will need to listen to his words with the same attention I give the voice in my head.
- Will I connect with him? Maybe, but it will take time. If he doesn’t say things the way I would say it, I might feel offended. But if I’m hungry for authenticity, I need to let him be authentic, too.
A great way to meet James is to read his whole letter in one sitting, out loud, with a friend or two.
Like with any new acquaintance, I will quickly form first impressions. It’s helpful to bring those out in in the open, like we recently did at a small group Bible study. Here’s what we thought about James:
- He’s punchy–gets right to the point.
- He uses vivid word pictures
- He’s terse–uses short, memorable phrases.
- His letter is very practical.
- There are lots of do’s and don’ts.
- I feel kind of guilty already.
We realized from these first impressions that James’ letter will be fun to study and easy to apply personally. But we also saw that our biggest challenge will be to taste God’s grace, instead of our guilt.
Road Map for the Week.
If you’ve bought the study book, do chapter 1: James 1:1-18, Joy in Trials. If you don’t have the book, use these questions.
- Who is James? See James 1:1, I Corinthians 15:7, Galatians 1:19, Acts 15:13 (notice the use of “my brothers”)
- What is the first thing on James’ mind? See James 1:2-4. What is his perspective on the topic?
- What can we do if we have trouble seeing our trials from his perspective? See James 1:5-8
- James gives an example of this different way of seeing trials in 1:9-11. Describe it, and how it’s different from the way we usually think.
- How we see our trials is a direct result of how we see God. What picture of God is formed by James 1:5, 12, 17, and 18?
- Each trial brings its own set of temptations with it. Describe temptation’s path from James 1:13-15.
- The core of temptation is being deceived about God’s goodness (Genesis 3:1-5). How can the truths of James 1:17-18 help me fight temptation?
Let’s bring our questions. Then listen, really listen, for the answers.