The Brother who was Called James


James; the brother of Jesus Christ.  An amazing character in the saga of the early Christian church.  But James didn’t start out as an amazing man, but as a confused individual who knew nothing of God’s plan for his life.

James wasn’t a great leader at first.  He didn’t believe in the person of Jesus Christ. He didn’t believe Jesus, his own brother.  He thought Jesus was confused and mentally unstable. He was ashamed of how Jesus presented himself, and he couldn’t understand the motives behind Jesus’ work.

Jesus actually hints at James’ unbelief when Jesus says in Mark 6:4 (NLT), “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.”

James was a nobody, and the doubt in his heart kept him from seeing the amazing works that Jesus was performing daily among the Jews and gentiles.  His doubt separated him from God, and that separation is an experience that is prevalent in many of us today.  We are yearning for something, but we just can’t quite figure out what IT is.  God calls us to put down the doubt, throw away the lack of faith and and let God pick you up from the ashes.

It took a while for James to realize this.  Jesus’ death on the cross wasn’t enough, The rumors and eye witnesses of the apostles claiming they had seen the risen Jesus wasn’t enough.

But when Jesus appeared to James, he realized he was wrong the whole time.  Jesus’ appearance to James isn’t in the gospels, but it is in 1 Corinthians 15:7 (NLT), Paul writes that Jesus “… was seen by James, and later by all the apostles.”

James went on to be the overseer of the Christian church in Jerusalem.  He became an amazing leader, and ultimately was martyred for his belief in Jesus Christ as the messiah.

But now, we are full of doubt, as humans, we want to be able to see so we can believe. But nevertheless, God is still there with open arms.  It doesn’t matter if we go to church every day, or have never stepped foot into one.  It doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve done, where you’ve been or how you’ve done it. God loves us all, and Jesus’ mercy is for all.  God’s grace is stronger than doubt, and definitely larger than any sin you or I have ever committed.

If you want to learn more about God’s grace, I strongly recommend looking up Romans chapter 5, and if you want to ask me questions, ask me, and I’ll get in touch with you.

 

Getting Closer


In my evangelism class, we were shown a video.  Here is that video:

The video shows a man with a certain handicap, and the only way that he is able to get people to show him affection, is by dressing up in this costume.  This video made me think, and from it, I bring you this blog post- Getting Closer

I think there is a lot that we as a society can bring away from this video, but, I’d like to expand it to a Christian dilemma. This man felt that he had to put on a full costume, and a mask to find affection.  From this video, I decided that he never did talk, but only spread his arms open; asking for closeness.

I think this means a lot to the Christian community.  Many Christians and non-Christians alike feel this same way.  They have sinned, as I have, and feel a lack of love from Christ followers.  They feel like the Christians around them won’t accept them for who they are.  Because of this, they put on a full costume.  From their head to toes, they wrap themselves in something that is more aesthetic to the eyes.  They know that they will be judged, and pushed away by the church, so they don’t allow their brokenness to be seen.  Furthermore,  they don’t speak- meaning they don’t allow themselves to unravel the hurt they are holding in.  They fear judgment and humiliation, when what they really need is someone to take the time to show them that God loves them no matter what they have been through.  Like I have said in previous posts, Jesus did not ask us to judge others, nor humiliate them.  He asked us to show them mercy.  There are multiple accounts in the Bible when Jesus talks about love and mercy, but there is no account of Jesus asking us to judge and humiliate each other.

God’s church is God’s followers.  A true follower of Jesus Christ will not push someone away because of what they have done.  No true Christ follower will avoid someone because of their past.  Christ did not push us away.  Jesus did not only hang out with the righteous.

In Matthew 9, Jesus is being rebuked by the teachers of law and the religious leaders for eating with tax collectors.  In their day, anyone who valued their reputation with the religious leaders would not have sat at the same table as a tax collector-they were viewed as sinners. Here is the passage.

Matthew 9:9-13 (NLT)  As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth.  “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him.  So Matthew got up and followed him.  10 Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners.  11 But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”  12 When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor-sick people do.”  13 Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’  For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

We see here that God undoubtedly valued personal affection towards those who were sinners.  He did this not for personal gain, but so that they would know that Jesus was able to forgive them of whatever they had committed in their life.  That’s the same now.  Jesus calls us to reach out to the broken.  He asks us to love and show mercy.  If we are God’s people, why do we prick our noses up towards others in our own righteousness?  Righteous?  Really?  Nobody is righteous!  Only Jesus is righteous.  And because Christ showed us love and mercy, even in our brokenness, we too are called to show love and mercy. Get closer!  When you truly care about others and show them love, no matter how broken they are, then, and only then, are you getting closer.