For all the attempts to relegate the authority of Jesus Christ, each one would submit the Sovereign King to outside authority, a move that Jesus did not need to make. Jesus is King over all. No one, whether spiritual force or personal presence is able to override the authority of the Lord. When the people in the synagogues heard Jesus teach, their spirit resonated with the understanding that they were hearing true authority. They were hearing the authentic word of God spoken by the mouth of God, made plain to them. Thus, as Jesus was approached with opportunities to heal, there was no issue in doing so. Jesus had the authority that belongs to God alone to heal sickness and command the demons and spiritual dark forces. Jesus had the authority to make the broken people whole.
When someone makes a mistake in their job, no matter how small the infraction, we move quickly to stating they should be fired. When a person commits an atrocious act, the response of those of the faith has been to hunt and kill them. All of this being guised by the call to justice. The issue is that the scale of the punishment and how quickly the conclusion was arrived at shows that something in the heart is not asking for justice but rather for vengeance. Instead of looking for the right thing to be done, the temptation is satisfy a blood lust and see our enemies suffer. The Gospel is ignored in our blood lust.
James begins to look at the input and output of our religion. He reinforces the idea that whatever a person allows to rule inside of them will naturally flow through them. There is a natual expression of the change in our identity that occurs with Jesus Christ. Whlie James isn’t claiming that it is works that save us, he does state plainly that it is the works that show our faith, for good or bad. Whatever we allow in to shape our identity will be the thing that is expressed through what we do. Furthermore, this is not a passive process but an intentional shaping and molding as we allow the word of God to become implanted deep into our spiritual DNA.
We strive so hard to prove our own worth through our own actions and feats, but doing so will never distill the anxiety but only multiply it. Grace through faith is the key to calming our anxious minds. In the end, our works are vastly insufficient to produce a self-worth of any value. But this is not the stem of our anxiety but rather are we good enough. We ask the question over and over presenting our best works forward to the people around us in hopes for validation of a question that can only be answered by God. “Am I good enough?” The answer from a loving God who sought us out in our ruin, is a most assured and resounding “yes.”
Every person seeking to follow Christ will most assuredly encounter tempation along the way. This is an unavoidable fact that we must be willing to deal with. It is during these times of temptation that what we believe about God and about His salvation becomes clear. We quickly see what the things we turn to are and who we blame for our situation. But James makes it clear, that being able to stand up in the face of temptation is a valiant expression of our faith; one that leads to eternal glory. Furthermore, God is there every step of the way through our times of temptation to see us through to the other side.
Feeling concerned for a person to either renew their relationship with Christ through their daily living or for them to come to Christ in the first place is natural. However, it is not a place we can stay. The feelings of concern, worry, and anxiety are not things we are meant to hold on to. It is a burden and God is able to handle much better than we are able to. Worry for those I care about, while it may be based in a good sentiment, is ultimately the worst thing I can do. We will all go through times of feeling anxious for a person, but what we do during that time is what marks the difference. Instead of spiraling downward into anxiety, what better option do you have than to place that person in the hands of God and allow God’s hands to work through ours.
At the beginning of the James’ letter to the Jewish Christians around the world, James begins to bring up the three major themes that would permeate the rest of the book. For James, faith was not an abstract construct that remains internal to all of us. Instead, faith was something to be lived out and expressed. The book of James presents a unique expression for those who needed to understand how to live out their faith. Difficult times would come for every believer, but the way we handle these situations puts God on full display. We trust God for the joy, we trust God for the wisdom, and we trust God for the provision.
The Gospel that Jesus Christ brings speaks a great deal into our finances and the provision. Jesus, in His iconic sermon on the mount, instructions His people to not worry about where their provision will come from. To this he shows us the examples of the birds and animals who live in trust that God will provide for their daily needs. We are worth more to God than animals and can trust God for the provision for our daily living. This may not always be easy, but we are able to trust God. He has provided for us in the past and will continue to guide us in the future. Furthermore, when God provides, we have the opportunity to live our our faith and be good stewards of what we have been given.
In the final address to the church in Philippi, Paul addresses the issue of peace and anxiety. We should not downplay anxiety or the things that people are going through. Even if we feel as though the person is anxious about too many things, minimizing the problem is not a valid solution. The cure to anxiety resides in what the person is concentrating on. With the constant barrage of 24/7 news coverage that seems to be more to satiate a bloodlust, now more than ever is the time to look to God for the comfort of our anxiety. Thus, we Paul writes to the church in Philippi to not be anxious, he does so with the solution of setting our attention on Christ.
For the people of Israel, they had entered into a period before King Saul but after Joshua had led them into the promise land. By God’s miraculous hand, the people were not only saved from the Egyptians, but were under the constant guidance and protection of God during the process. When they arrived at the promise land, their victory was secured by the hand of God as a display of His sovereignty and might. When the author of Judges claims that Israel had no King, it is a harsh indictment of the people whose Sovereign King had led them. They abandoned God for the chaos of everyone pursuing their own desires and wishes.