As James looked out over the congregations of his day, did he perceive the need to address a particular problem? Commentators generally regard his original readers as being largely poor Jewish Christians. However, might there be more? Continue reading “A background for James?”
Do you long for the beauty of community dwelling in peace? Sick of divisiveness? Many are. What’s the solution? We would do well to take a page or two from the apostle Paul.
Peace is not produced by passivity. Harmony is not a settled state. Man tends toward discord. A close reading of Genesis 3 will reveal that sin caused disharmony between man and his Creator, disharmony between man and creation, and disharmony between man and man. We live in a world where sin is the settled state. Where sin is, there is disunity, discord, and disharmony. Peace must be something we work toward, something we pursue.
The blood of Christ has the power to heal the divide between God and man (Colossians 1:20). But man must be willing to pursue that peace (see 2 Corinthians 5:20). Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Denying self and following after Christ are basic prerequisites to reconciliation with God. Peace with God through salvation does not simply come to us, we must come to God in faith. Once we have been unified with God, we must continue to live by faith to maintain that fellowship with the Divine (1 John 1:3-7). Continue reading “Pursuing peace”
All that is good comes from God. To each one he gives what is more than sufficient. In Christ, there are no shortages. God shares his fullness with all, and there is more than enough to go around.
Paul sums up in Romans 15.5 what God gives as endurance and comfort. He helps us go the distance and cheers us on to keep up our spirits. (Sounds like Philippians 2.13.) Continue reading “With one voice: Unity under the fullness of God”
The rich, as a rule, love their riches. Jesus observed how difficult it is for the rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, Matthew 19.23. As well, many saints, whose eyes are impressed by wealth, give preference to the more well-off in life.
Therefore, it is necessary that we all, as brothers and sisters who love each other without prejudice or conditions, hear again the word of God, which discounts completely the possessions that a person has, for “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” Luke 12.15. Continue reading “Christians still prefer the rich. How crazy is that?!”
Sometimes living as a Christian can seem confusing. Unlike the Law of Moses given to Israel, there isn’t a list of “do’s and don’ts” detailing how we should live. Instead we find principles we can use and examples we can see that help us determine how we should live.
One of the big ‘issues’ that the Christians in the first century had to face was in eating. Although this might seem strange to us, we need to realise the problem was not necessarily in the food itself, but in people’s perception of who we were, based on what we were eating. In particular this had to do with food that had been sacrificed to idols. Continue reading “Love and knowledge”
Driving one Sunday morning up US Highway 45 in Tennessee, on our way to report on our work to a congregation outside of the town of Dyersburg, we passed a denominational church building with a sign posted near the right-of-way. It was simple, with three words, one on top of the other: Scripture, Tradition, Reason.
In truth, in order to reflect that group’s positions, the order ought to be reversed: reason, tradition, scripture. The denomination could not exist were it not for human reasoning and religious tradition, because its name and its teachings do not appear in Scripture in any form.
Division among people who call themselves Christians is a serious problem. Religious leaders not only justify it, but promote it. They glory in human names and creeds. They impose their doctrines and, like the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees, make their followers “twice as much a child of hell as” themselves, Matthew 23.15. Continue reading “‘A universal proverb among Christians’”
The first pair of brothers was not united. Cain was jealous of Abel and killed him because of his righteousness, Genesis 4. Unity has always been a desirable pursuit, Psalm 133. It has not always been an easy exercise. Moses dealt with rebellious siblings, and Joseph was betrayed by his brothers. In Israel, tribe rose up against tribe. Abram’s sentiments to Lot are rarely heard: We are family, so let’s not quarrel, Genesis 13.8.
The early church dealt with challenges to unity at every turn. Judaizers, promoters of human philosophies, libertines, and greedy opportunists sought to slice the family of faith into pieces and prey on the weak. Continue reading “Is unity still a realistic pursuit?”
Before he was betrayed, Jesus spent time in prayer for both himself and his followers (see John 17). He prayed for the men he had chosen and even for those who would believe through their work. His concern was for unity among his followers.
He prayed, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:20-21 ESV). Sadly, unity at times seems to allude Christians. Perhaps that is why so few today believe in Jesus. Continue reading “How can we have unity?”
Sometimes we get the idea that God’s people should never have problems, that they should always get along, and that there will always be harmony. Anyone who thinks this cannot have read Paul’s letters to God’s people at Corinth. It is hard to imagine a group of Christians who could have so many problems including not getting along!
But they were still God’s people! In the opening verses, Paul referred to them as “the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, and called to be saints, with all those in every place who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours” (1 Corinthians 1:2 NET). Just because they had problems did not negate who they were in Christ. Continue reading “Unity in the Lord’s Supper”