Wednesday, 26 September 2007

One more thing on James...

One other passage I've been struck by in James is 1:22ff

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does."

Time and time again when we look at this passage we end up making it into a 'we'd-really-better-obey-all-the-rules-and-not just-know-what-they-are' kind of a thing. But if one looks carefully at the context the "word" is not simply commands from God which we'd better remember to obey. Rather, it is the gospel - it is the word that gives new birth and that brings salvation. This is certainly a command, but it is much more than that and much more empowering than a simple command. It is the perfect law that gives freedom - the law of Christ. In other words, the point James is making is that true 'religion' is rooted in doing the gospel. It is about being one who does not only listen to the gospel but who enacts it, incarnates it. It is about becoming someone who demonstrates the gospel in action. What James is doing here is to draw a powerful link between the Christian life and the gospel - how it starts is how it is meant to go on. We must never forget how we look in the mirror of the gospel, to hear it and think on it. We are never to forget it. And we are to do it i.e. to live out the life of faith in gospel and all its implications.