IN A NUTSHELL – It’s one thing to tell those around you that you are a Christian and something totally different to have those around you recognize and make a topic of discussion that you are a Christian. The Christians addressed in James had just undergone a new level of persecution and was learning a new reality of living with the spirit of Jesus Christ amidst suffering in a “dog eat dog” world. After the “great dispersion” the strength in numbers and built in accountability of being in the same circle of believing friends was gone. It had become easy to lose sight of what it meant to live out their faith in everyday life. How relevant is that?!
Have you ever read a letter that you thought was written to you and for just a moment you were shocked thinking something was being promised to you? Or, imagine the implications of an assumption that James was not written to unbelievers. Just pick a paragraph, read it , and discuss the implications of a non Christian not being able to embrace it’s truths.
CONNECTING TO THE TEXT - Read James 2:14 - 26
- What summary concept seems to keep showing up in this section of Scripture? 2:14, 17, 20, 24, 26
- What types of illustrations does James use in order to describe his point? 2:15, 19, 21-23, 25
- Would you say James’ tone in 2:14-26is trying to:
- Communicate a complicated thought
- Convince a skeptical audience
- Introduce a new concept
- Looking at other statements of faith, convictions, or beliefs, stated in James, how might “works” or required action complete the concept to become a promise or warning? 1:3; 1:28; 2:5; 3:2; 3:18; 4:4; 4:6; 4:12; 4:14; 5:4; 5:11; 5:16 Faith Statements in James
REFLECTING UPON OUR LIVES
- Which of the following struggles seem most common among Christians? for you?
- Wisdom in suffering
- Ineffective religious loyalties
- Social prejudice toward the rich and against poor
- Convictions that they don’t live out
- Trouble discerning between heavenly and earthly wisdom
- A tendency toward pride and shunning humility
- Realizing the shortness of life
- Trusting and relying on God in difficult times
- What commands or list of things you should do that can be found in James; are you comfortable with? are you troubled by?
- What do you think would happen if an unbeliever tried to do the things commanded in James? In other words, without faith in God as revealed through Jesus Christ can any of this work in an unbeliever’s life?
CONNECTING WITH THE WAY WE DO CHURCH
- What do you imagine would happen if everyone at Church lived 100% by the teachings in James?
- What would your CARE group be like if all of you lived by the teachings in James 100% of the time?
- How would our community view us if we lived 100% by the teachings of James?
- Consider viewing this promotional video used recently by the Methodist Churches. What if "Church" in our minds happened on Monday through Saturday as well as on Sunday?