James was the brother of God.
He was called “James the Just”. If he failed to live up to the reputation, we would have heard about it.
The Book of James is jarring, dangerous, brimming with bombshells. But it’s a skimpy five chapters long. Some blog posts are longer.
But my mom always said, “Quality is better than quantity”
And can you imagine how many times he heard his mother say,
“James, why can’t you be more like your brother?” ツ
What else is there?
He’s the brother of Jesus, we should know a bunch about him, right?
He presided over the very first Jerusalem church.
The first century Christians revered him – with a capitol ‘R’.
He was called “teacher of righteousness”.
Nobody else gets that kind of first century respect, not Peter, not John, not Paul.
He was not big into bathing, no cutting of the hair, no drinking…
no animal food (not certain about sushi. ツ wait, pretty sure no sushi)
And he prayed – and prayed – and prayed. It’s said that his knees were like a camel because he prayed so much. Camels are the 4 by 4’s of the animal kingdom – spindly legs, ginormous knees. They navigate shifting sands, support huge camel bodies, and all the stuff people love heaping upon them. Kneeling, for a camel – not an easy thing.
He was given extra teaching, with Peter and John.
Together, these three were called, “the pillars”.
He stood always at odds with Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. Just like his brother.
He was so respected that his following increased and he became a threat. Just like his brother.
He had a revolutionary emphasis on rich people NOT lording it over the poor. Just like his brother.
The Jewish leadership in Jerusalem wanted him gone. He was killed at their hands.
Just like his brother.
I see him accepting Grace, all the way, and as The Jewish Christian of Jewish Christians, desperately needing to live out that acceptance, by, dare I say the word…works.
I can hear Mary now, “Craig, why can’t you be more like James the Just?”
I have followed Our Lord without once turning back, and yet failed him mightily in the following. There is Grace. But I am bereft of merit. To keep trying, keep a heart towards God, that’s all this sinner can do.
I show only my best self when others are looking. Where’s the deservedness in that?
James stood for Truth, in a holy city that had ferociously rejected Truth. A target was drawn on his back. Me? I’ve mostly created my own targets, inspired by the lovely triplets: ego, conceit, and vanity, and then brandished it about, daring people to shoot.
I push against boundaries. God draws me home.
I doubt. God sees to it that there are answers.
I rebel, and he is patient.
But he chastens, and sometimes crushes those he loves,
to save them,
to save me.
and he forgives.
I have his Scripture. We all do. I have his Holy Spirit, and have walked with him and talked with him. I’m not alone. But still Mary would scold me,
“Why can’t you be more like God’s brother?”
Like a trickle of water eventually breaks through stone, his Grace has broken my stone heart, and created a new one. There is hope for this stubborn, wayward, and perennial prodigal.
More conformed into the image of the Son of God than ever,
yet more achingly aware of how little like him I am,
much less his brother
James the Just.
There you go. My very first post.