A letter from Jesus' brother

This devotional is written by  Peter Russell. Peter is a keen walker, scrabble player and pianist and works as a lawyer by day. 

James 2:14-26

I am a member of a gym. Not that you could tell by looking at me, but if you search through my wallet you will find a membership card for a nice establishment not far from my office.

I used to go regularly but then COVID-19 happened. Whilst the gym reopened some time ago, the paunch I have developed testifies that I have barely been back since. Alas the only pounds I am losing are from my bank account in membership fees!

Today's passage is understandably considered in the context of salvation. It seems to cut across the narrative elsewhere of salvation by faith in Jesus alone. In fact the book of James proved so controversial that the reformer Martin Luther did not consider it expressed the 'nature of the gospel'. Perhaps it is better considered as a call to genuine involvement in the Kingdom of God rather than a commentary on its entry requirements.

Let's imagine for a moment that God is fairly generous with the membership cards (which I like to think He is); surely the purpose is that we are reconciled with Him in order to co-work with Him and become more like Him?

This is a challenge to me having grown up with an unhealthy obsession with technical salvation. As I read this passage, God is challenging me to deeper authenticity of faith by active participation in the Kingdom. That might look like getting involved in the exciting new Love Marylebone initiatives; re-engaging with gathered worship or private devotional time; inviting a friend to the Life Course or whatever the Spirit puts on your heart.

I hope my faith means more than my gym membership card and I am inspired to shake off the lethargy and to get spiritually active again.

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