Reading for Tuesday, June 5: James 2
James helps to fit us with the proper lenses we need to see clearly. This stands behind the command against showing favoritism. Things aren’t always as they seem. “Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?” (v6). We see as God sees, first with regard to ourselves, then others. Though we may seem insignificant in the eyes of the world — lacking in position, power, and prosperity — in God’s view, we are deemed worthy of a kingdom. In turn, we embrace an alternate vision, valuing people — all people: rich, poor, male, female, old, young — as God’s image-bearing creation, worthy of our love (v8), understanding that mercy triumphs over judgment (v13).
This conversation leads to one of James’ more well known positions: the relationship between faith and works. James’ obliterates the notion of a privitized, interior faith detached from the needs of the world. Even the demons give intellectual assent to Christ’s identity. Is not our faith more than this? James answers with an emphatic, “Yes!” “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do,” (v18). Faith is “made complete” (v22) in obedient action. Abraham offers Isaac; Rahab offers hospitality; we offer clothing and bread to the poor. Each of these narratives of faith is inextricably linked by intentional action. This is the work of spiritual formation, the complete work of faith.