The ‘Church’ is People is a series based on the letter of James.
It’s a five-part survey of this epistle, whose author has been traditionally believed to be James, the brother of Jesus Christ.
The reason why most people think that way is because of the opening of the letter of James,
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings. James 1: 1. ESV.
Most authors in the New Testament always begin by referring to themselves as apostles of Jesus Christ. James, however, did not do it. That means he was not one of the two apostles of Jesus who also went by James.
The letter is for the Jewish Christians in dispersion beyond Palestine. James wrote this epistle for them, including us today.
In chapter one, which we are looking at in this part, there are three sections:
- James begins by introducing himself and stating the kind of audience to whom he’s writing this letter. See verse 1.
- Next, James talks about the testing of our faith. See verses 2 through 18.
- Last, he talks about what we will spend time reflecting on in the next lines. See verses 19 through 27.
People who hear
The last section begins with the following words,
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
The Church is a people who hear, according to the letter of James.
To hear means the following:
- To listen with thoughtful attention.
- To pay attention.
- To give consideration.
- To comprehend by hearing.
The Church is a people who do the above.
When something is wrong, instead of finding what or who to blame, let’s ask God to help us hear better.
Everything that happens to us is always an opportunity for us to listen, pay attention and give consideration to something or someone.
People who are slow to speak
The letter of James also reminds us that God has called us to be a people who are slow to speak.
We all have opinions about everything that happens. But, a lot of times, what happens doesn’t always require us to speak.
It is probably intended to help us proclaim God’s mighty works and acts as we embrace life and what it brings to us.
God wants us to tell God’s story, no matter what we face.
And, in order to do it, we have to be slow to speak, but quick to listen to God as well as pay attention to what’s happening around us.
People who are slow to anger
Next, James is talking about anger.
God wants us to be a people who are slow to anger.
Does it mean we will never get angry because we are now God’s people?
No, anger is a human feeling. But, human anger does not lead to God’s righteousness.
Jesus got angry, according to the New Testament. For instance, He had to turn the tables upside down in the temple because religious leaders, in His days, had started doing business in God’s house. Read Matthew 21:12-13.
What it comes down to is that it’s ok to feel angry. But, the question is what do you do with that feeling?
Do you choose to turn this into an energy, which will allow you to lead others to God?
The church is People that channel every single feeling into an opportunity to draw each other closer to God.
That’s the kind of people James is portraying in his letter, and specifically in chapter one.
People who are pure before God the Father
Lastly, the Church is People who are pure before God the Father.
Look at verses 26 and 27,
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 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. ESV.
There are two things here, and which you may have probably heard of:
- Visiting the needy.
- Stay unstained from the world.
You can’t do only one, but both together, because that’s the kind of People God wants us to be.
Questions for reflection
When you feel like somebody hasn’t been in Church for the last two Sundays, what do you do? Do pray for them? Do you pick up the phone and call to check on them?
The Church, God wants us to be, is a People who thrive to see people and situations as God sees them. Therefore, they’re always quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. They channel every feeling and emotion into an opportunity to draw closer to God and each other.