Sunday, September 9, 2012

Missions in James

The book of James is a tough one. It's full of short sentences containing many commands. This epistle is sort of like taking an advanced class in sanctification. James shouts to his readers that true salvation in Christ shows evidence in godly living. In the midst of all this, what can we learn about missions? (For the first post in this series, click here).

The primary theme of James, that faith is accompanied by works, is extremely important for missions. The reason for this is simple: people generally believe what they see much more than what they simply hear. The gospel shared and lived is much more effective than just shared. The adage "I'll believe it when I see it holds true."

James tells us in 1:22, "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." Later in 2:14-17, "What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and filled,' without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."

The world takes notice when the church does things such as taking care of the physical needs of the poor.

In James 1:27 we read, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." In general the church makes an attempt, to varying degrees, to live holy lives. However, we for the most part fail in doing things like visiting widows and orphans.

James teaches us that good works matter. They matter because they honor God. They matter because they prove that our salvation is real. They matter because they usually relieve suffering on someone else's part. Finally, as it pertains to missions, good works show that there is substance to Jesus-followers. When the world sees this substance, it takes notice. This, in turn, leads to more people being willing to hear about Jesus.

Let's live out our faith by showing the world our works.

To read any or all posts in this series, click here.

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