James: Everyday Faith: Book Preview: Chapter 1

Day 1: From Brother of Jesus to Slave of Jesus
(James 1:1)

Sibling relationships are always interesting. There are seasons when brothers and sisters can be the best of friends and get along, yet there are some seasons when they can be the greatest of rivals. In those seasons of rival, it is easy for one sibling to try to get ahead of the other or appear better than the other – simply as a part of the competition. 

Now, imagine your sibling is Jesus. Like not simply named Jesus. He is THE JESUS. The Messiah. The Creator. The Savior. The sinless one. That Jesus. Imagine being compared to Him. The question Christians have asked each other through the centuries “Why can’t you be more like Jesus?” was the question the author of James likely heard many times from his mother. 

Throughout this devotional book, we are going to explore the book written by James the brother of Jesus. Through this book, we will see first-hand what it looks like to live for Jesus in everyday life. and how our faith must impact our lives to be a truly biblical faith.  

Today, we begin by meeting James as he introduces the book in James 1:1…

“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.”- James 1:1

Notice James doesn’t begin his letter by playing the Jesus card. He could have easily begun his letter by saying, “James, the brother of Jesus…,” but he doesn’t. That approach would have been instant credibility and have potentially boosted the status of his argument, yet James leads with a more interesting description. 

“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ…” James described himself with the word “servant.” This is a word many of us will read right by because we think being a “servant of the Lord” is something we assume every Christian would be. Sometimes when we read the Bible in English, we miss some of the depths of the text that were seen in the original language. James is calling himself a “dulous” of Jesus. “Dulous” is a Greek word meaning a “slave.” James is saying he is a slave of God and Jesus. 

Do not miss this. James is calling himself a slave of his sibling. Even in the best sibling relationships, one becoming a slave to the other clearly crosses the line of sibling status. The fact that James claims he is a slave of Jesus is a great picture of the truthfulness of the gospel message. 

What would it take for your sibling to convince you he or she was God? Jesus convinced James through His own crucifixion and resurrection. Jesus’ brother James worshiped Him as God. This is a work only God Himself could do. 

What about this chosen slavery? When we think of slavery, we typically think of one group of people oppressing another group of people because they were different. They had a different race, religion, culture, etc. Yet, slavery in this picture is different than that. The slavery James assigns himself is that of willingly giving yourself as a slave to another. 

A voluntary slave gives away all of his or her rights, status, decisions, and privileges in order to submit to those of another. He or she is giving the direction and purpose of their lives to someone else. This is who James says he is to Jesus, His brother who also is God in the flesh. 

In saying “yes” to Jesus to follow Him, James is saying “no” to many other things and other directions for his life. James has come to a point of surrender, and by giving his “yes” to Jesus, he is truly saying the best “yes.” James is following the One who He was created to follow and experiencing life the way it was meant to be.

James goes on to send greetings to the audience of his letter. The Jewish believers who were dispersed around the region. This audience has a background of faith. Thus, their Jewish roots; yet, they are learning what it looks like to follow Jesus, the promised Jewish Messiah to whom the Old Testament is pointing. 

Just as James calls himself a slave of Jesus, we as followers of Jesus are to live our lives as voluntary slaves of Jesus as well. When we followed Jesus, we resigned our own rights, status, decisions, and privileges in order to let Jesus lead us as our Lord and God. Like James, we gave Jesus our best “yes” to experience the life we were created for.

Response

  • Have I given my best “yes” to following Jesus?
  • Am I living life today following Jesus- my true Master? 
  • Am I letting Him lead me? 
  • Am I letting His priorities shape my priorities? 

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