In which there should be something different in me

by Craig on April 8, 2011

Yesterday was about angels and demons and oppression. And James was wondering why the people who read his letter spent so much time kissing up to the people “above” them – people who used them like pawns. And he asks,

“Are not the rich oppressing you? And do they themselves not haul you off to court?” (James 2:6)

So I ask, what is this court thing about?

It turns out that the court thing could have to do with wages and debts, like in Matthew 5:25

“Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison.”

Or…

It might also mean a “turning in” of Christians.

At the time of this letter there was no outright persecution of Christians. It was more of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in the Empire. It was better kept under wraps though – you could be imprisoned in some areas for being a Christian – but only if you admitted to it. If you kept silent publicly – and didn’t make enemies with your neighbors, you could practice your “little religion” in peace.

Christians disrupted the normal order of Roman society.
The “haves” hated them.

Slaves might refuse to do things they did formerly.

Maybe it was sex, or being debt collectors – not the kind we have today – but more of the break your arm type.

The rich of Rome always had plots and schemes in play. It was like High School, everyone trying to climb just a bit higher on the social ladder. It could get cruel. Slaves might be asked to take part in these plots. Maybe now, the Christian ones might not participate so eagerly.

The rich of Rome didn’t like the way this new philosophy was affecting their lives.

And the Rich held all the power.

On the whole, Christians were less vulnerable to bribing, or favoritism. More Christians actually meant less business at the meat markets, and idol shops, and temples, etc…

Christians were not only bad for business, they didn’t stay in their place well enough. Sure, they were humble and all, but they seemed to have a little more self respect than they should. Maybe there were pauses before the obligatory bowing before someone of a higher class.

And they were spreading some message about “no Greek or Roman, no slave or free – all equal in God’s eyes”.

I don’t think James is saying that the rich or powerful should be despised. They should just be treated the same as anyone else. Not all rich and powerful people oppress, take advantage of, and abuse the poor. Not even back then, when to be at the top meant near impunity.

So what’s the “so what” in all of this?

The big one I take away is this: my life should be a little puzzling, and maybe a smidge irritating to, and definitely different from people whose values are worldly.

Our Lord was like this.

The ones who have bought fully into the world system should look at me, look at us, and see something they lack. That something should attract some, but should also be so different, and maybe, annoy others.

When I first became Christian I didn’t want to become one of those kind of Christians. I wanted to be the kind that everyone said was not so different. I justified it by thinking I’d have more in common with them and be able to reach them better.  But in reality I liked being “in” the “in” crowd.

If I balanced it just right – I could be a fanatical Christian – but still one of the popular kids.

I think James would have told me to stop riding the fence.

If I’m too much like the world,

then I’m not enough like Our Lord.

And I want to be like Our Lord.

That’s just one thing to take from this. But one of the things I heart about blogging is that it’s two way. I get to share stuff – and you guys share back. So would you be nice enough to share what you take from this?

I adore learning from you guys.

I’m pulling up a chair

and sitting at your feet

and listening…

God Bless

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

A. April 8, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Craig, I am catching up after a few days here, and reading oldest to newest, and I, too, learn so much here. From everyone. Because my hours are so convoluted and strange, I am simply grateful that you’re open all the time. Today, I seriously need it and what you wrote in this post and the previous one are the fuel I need for the ‘trip’ I am about to take for a few days. Jesus did say that following Him could cause division. Seems division can happen for good reasons and for bad and no matter which one does, there will always be those who disagree-rightly or wrongly. So, my main hope is to simply please Him. That has cost me dearly in a few instances. Still is costing me in some. Thank you so much for this encouragement, and I pray for you in your own current challenges. I will be rereading, for sure. Isn’t it strange how it can be encouraging just to hear of other fellow Siblings are facing and somehow weathering challenges, too?

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Craig April 8, 2011 at 2:11 pm

He did say he was a sword to divide. And we do divide for silly reasons – but there does come a time when the toxic level is so high – it’s time to get out – forgive – but get out. I have prayed for your situation – not knowing the details – but still – God does – so I have prayed. God Bless you A.

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Debra April 8, 2011 at 11:42 pm

A word straight from the heart of God, spoken by Craig. We who are in Christ are aliens, like that little green gummy, like our Lord. We are not of this world, therefore we don’t think like the world. It’s scary what some religious groups do with this, making it more about dos and don’ts than about “being transformed by the renewing of our mind.” If we have the mind of Christ, why would we have any desire to embrace worldly values or pursue its “standards?”
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15
And since you’ve been addressing contradictions, I used to wonder how one reconciled the verse above with, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son….” Until I understood the two different Greek meanings of the word “world.”
Forgive the dissertation here :( But like you I don’t want to be “of the world.” Don’t want to ride the fence. Or be double minded. I just want to have the mind of Christ. Period.
~ love and peace

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Craig April 9, 2011 at 9:34 am

Amen Debra – it isn’t about rules – if we have rules we just find loopholes – but a transformed heart seeks obedience – not loopholes. But still we sin – this world is so so broken – we – even though saved are still sinners – but it’s the heart I think – where is our True North – and are we headed that way. No?

And your dissertation? It’s what I asked for – thank you. It sent me scrambling because you mentioned the two meaning of the Greek word used for”world” in John 3:16 – but didn’t say what they were. So I had to relearn – one meaning the actual earth and the inhabitants (us) – and the other meaning the world system (the broken system of the world ruled by the one who is NOT God.” God doesn’t love that one – he loved the first definition of the word κόσμος (kosmos). Thank you for stretching me – although next time just assume I don’t know – and teach me. (◠‿◠)

Thank you Debra – LOVE and peace to you too!!

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Debbie April 9, 2011 at 1:50 am

Thank you so much for sharing how you see this and how you are thinking being different might also make us a little annoying to some. I’ve seen this. But guess I think I’m doing something wrong if someone is annoyed. God bless you as you lead us through James!
A . . .praying with you too. :)

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Craig April 9, 2011 at 9:37 am

Jesus said blessed are we who are persecuted for the Kingdom’s sake – sometimes we we are just plain annoying – I mean I can be plenty annoying all on my own – and who can blame someone for being annoyed by an annoying person – but when we are acting consistently as Our Lord acted – it will annoy too – and that is blessed. Thank you Deb – I need to cut down on the bad annoying – and multiply the good annoying (◠‿◠). God Bless.

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Michelle April 9, 2011 at 2:18 am

“The big one I take away is this: my life should be a little puzzling, and maybe a smidge irritating to, and definitely different from people whose values are worldly.
Our Lord was like this.
The ones who have bought fully into the world system should look at me, look at us, and see something they lack. That something should attract some, but should also be so different, and maybe, annoy others.”

This brings to mind the following passage – 2 Corinthians 2:16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life.

So I guess the Bible is saying we need to stink so much of Jesus, that we draw some to life and others turn away in disgust, because they are so offended by Him.

No fence riding in that verse, is there.

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Craig April 9, 2011 at 9:47 am

Aaaaaaand after I stopped laughing – I typed this…

Yes we are to wreak like Jesus – we should be very stinky!!! Amen. amen.

God Bless – and thank you for teaching me – hmmm I wonder where “deodorant: fits into this analogy???? (◠‿◠)

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Patti April 9, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Jesus said before we embark on a journey, we are to count the cost. Yes, there is a cost to following him, maybe some former friends will turn away, or worse. I find, the more I know and draw close to him, the less I care what others think. His way is the only way truly worth following!

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Craig April 9, 2011 at 5:30 pm

I know I still think too much about what others are thinking – and then in some ways I don’t think enough. I do know that you are right – thank you for the reminder – the more of Him I have in me – the more I see with his eyes and love with His love – the more like I was designed to be – I become. All of us. And it does come with a cost. Good reminders today – thank you – God bless.

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A. April 11, 2011 at 9:40 am

Patti, thank you so much for the reminder that I Chose Jesus…and therefore, there will be a cost. In the midst of my challenges, somehow, this is comforting, because choice is empowering-even in dark, oppressive circumstances.

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Rie April 9, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Craig, have you ever noticed that the red gummies are stickier than the green ones? The green ones are smooth and “clean” (for lack of a better word?) but the red ones stick to each other and are harder to pry away. The goo up your fingers and make you look for ways to become clean again. When we are like the world . . .

Love that photo. Something else, if you throw the green one in the smack dab middle of all the red ones – the green is all you will see. Eyes are drawn to it. The difference a Christian makes in this world.

OR – you will want to remove it because it bothers you.

Whether non-believers are drawn to us or bothered by us – either way a Christian makes a scene, huh?

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Craig April 10, 2011 at 5:38 am

Rie. I cannot add a single thing to that. It’s brilliant, spectacular, awesome. It’s a perfect analogy – perfect. That is all. ƪ(◠‿◠)╯ God Bless you.

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