Matthew Dyer - May 21, 2023
Introduction to James
From Series: "A Wiser Way to Live: A Study in James"
The “book” or “letter” of James seems to be a summary of the teaching of Jesus’ brother James, a prominent leader of the church in Jerusalem. Traditionally, James is believed to have been stoned to death by religious leaders in or prior to 69 CE. This work was probably written shortly after his murder, with the aim of preserving the wisdom of James’ teaching for future generations of followers of Jesus. The book challenges the nature of faith as so much more than a system of belief or a nominal allegiance to a religious community. Drawing on Jesus’ teaching—particularly as recorded in the Sermon on the Mount—James calls on those who claim to be followers of Jesus to live out the way of love in all the practicalities of life. This means pursuing justice, practicing mercy, and ensuring equity and inclusion. It means preserving in this way even when life is difficult and opposing forces seem overwhelming. Like Jesus, James is not simply aiming to present a list of dos and don’ts: rather, he argues that to live in such a way is “wisdom from above.” This way of practical, inclusive love is the means to a healthy, fulfilling life, and is evidence of real friendship with God. Through this six-week series, we will explore the context for this ancient book of wisdom for life, and its relevance for us today. Youth and children will also see what James had to say about how to live well. We’ll ask questions like: What does it mean to be wise? Who are the cool kids? Does it really matter what we say? And what is success? Living in the way of Jesus can be hard sometimes, so we’ll also be asking: Is it worth it? And how can we live like this at school and home and out in our neighborhoods?