Scripture – James 2:19-20
You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?
James is writing to the Jewish believers who were scattered around the nations.They had grown up under the Law which required them to do certain things at certain times, not to do certain things, and to do yet other things when they didn’t do the former things as well as they should have. The Law was designed to show man that they could never measure up and that they desperately needed God – that they couldn’t do it on their own. Instead, what happened was they created a religion based around who could be as close to perfect as possible – practically eliminating the desire or the need for God.
James audience was the scattered Jewish people who had accepted the Good News of the Messiah, Jesus. They believe that Jesus is God, that there is only one God, but it seems this understanding has not led to any change in attitude, heart or behavior. James explains that those just wanting to believe without any resulting action are fooling themselves (Js. 1:22). Jesus said to his followers, “if you love me, you will obey what I command.” So what did he command? Love the Lord your God with all you heart, soul, mind and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself. From these commands came the great commission, to go out into all the world, make disciples of all nations (ethnos – peoples), baptize them and teach them to obey all he commanded (love God and love your neighbor).
The gospel is a mystery, and yet it has been made known to us. Living life as disciples of Jesus is fairly straightforward. We have been justified (absolved of sin and therefore saved from death) through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus. Our justification has torn down the curtain that separated us from our father in heaven, and has reconciled us to him, a father-child relationship through Christ. God first loved us and we get to love him and develop a real relationship with him. This love compels us to obey him. We find all he really asks us to “do” is to love him with everything, love those around us in the same way we love ourselves, to share this good news with those who don’t know about it and to invite them to follow him.
My entire life needs to be wrapped around this truth and what this truth means to my everyday life.
Father, I earnestly desire my entire life to be consumed with loving you, loving those around me as I love myself and sharing this profound mystery with others. Thank you for being so patient with me. Excited to love, obey and follow you all the days of my life. You are such a good father, thank you. In Jesus’ incredible name, amen.