Started the book of James with my 6th graders today. I’m really excited about this book. Very practical, yet deep, too. I’m sure we’ll have some great conversations on this one!
Today, we started with the background of the book. Thinking about James growing up in the shadow of Jesus, the only really perfect elder sibling, made an impact, I think! We talked about how James didn’t even identify himself as Jesus’ brother, but rather as a servant, a doulos (slave by choice for life). But when I got to James’ martyrdom, I think I hit a nerve. For all of us.
Tradition has it that James was thrown from the Temple in Jerusalem, and then beaten to death. The brother of Christ killed in a very violent manner, all for his faith in his Savior. James was no dummy. He was a Jew who saw his brother get crucified for going against the status-quo in Jerusalem. He was the leader of the church in Jerusalem, so he might as well have had a target on his chest. Yet he didn’t leave Jerusalem. He continued to bring the Gospel to his countrymen and women. I’m sure that was why he was at the temple the day he was killed.
I asked how many of us would be willing die for our faith. One girl actually was honest and said she didn’t know if she could. It’s a heavy question. How many of us in the U.S. really have to worry about anything like that? How many of us go through any type of persecution at all? What? We might be the brunt of jokes, but, right now, do we really face any real dangers?
James did. And Peter. And Paul. And Matthew. And John. And the modern saints in China, and Africa, and Iran, and India.
As I drove home, I couldn’t help but think “It’s time to rise up and quit hiding.” The church needs to quit trying to be friends with the world, and start acting like we really care about the dying souls in it. We need to be brave enough to be made fun of, because who knows? Perhaps the jokester on the other side might be reacting that way because the Holy Spirit is at work in his life? Are you willing to risk it?