My church is trundling through James in the evening services at the moment. We’ve already covered the elephant in that room of James supposedly advocating a works-based salvation (he doesn’t), so now we’re looking at other pieces in his letter.
When you’ve been going to church as long as I have, there are a lot of things that come around again and again. James’ letter is one of them. I think it’s been a while since we last looked at James to be honest – enough that I know a lot more about Roman Palestine now. The reminder that the society that James lived in was a lot more stratified than our own has a lot more meaning now, for instance.
Another point about the passage I don’t remember being expounded upon quite so blatantly before was about when Christians fall.
Because they do. They’re human just like everyone else in the world. They say inappropriate things to work colleagues. They get break road rules. They pinch grapes from the supermarket. They fib to others. And then, just like human beings everywhere, sometimes they fall hard. They get drunk, try to drive home and kill someone. Or they get pregnant outside of marriage. And abort it.
I have just such a friend. She used to come to my church, too, until she moved many miles away. I suspect most people still in the church who knew her don’t know she had an abortion and I was extremely honoured when she chose to entrust me with that knowledge. And I was pretty sure this had nothing to do with why she moved away.
But now I’m not so sure.
The church should never condemn such a person. It should be merciful and loving no matter what, because such fallen people are often marginalized by the world at large. Unfortunately, the church is filled with imperfect humans and they love to judge. When most of the attendees have not fallen so, one who has is often unfairly treated. Which is a horrible contrast to the rest of the world who judge over some of these things rather less.
The last sentence in my notes for that sermon is “When was the last time we went and shared time with the broken, with someone who needs The Healer?”