This letter by James, the blood brother of Jesus Christ, is written to the universal church. It is one of the first preserved letters that we have and it addressed issues that any young, actually all, Christians will face in same shape or form. It it both a word of warning and encouragement to each and everyone of us of what the Christian life is like.
In the opening passage of his letter, James addresses something I believe most people overlook in the early life of a young Christian. This issue has been the turning point of so many young Christians that have either spurred them deeper into their relationship with God or deterred them completely from the reality of the Christian life.
Keep in mind that this is directed, especially, at young and new Christians and listen to how he begins after introducing himself.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers (and sisters), whenever you face trials of many kinds…
What is James going on about? The very first thing he says to a new believer is be joyful when you face trials. Seriously, what in God’s name? Becoming a Christian and you face trials? Who, in their right mind, would believe in a God if they were going to face trials? Just stop and think about it, there’s this new club that’s started up in your community and you read their promotional material and it says, “Join now and have a hard time in life…” You aren’t going to join, are you?
Let me make it loud and clear, the Christian life is not easy. To anyone who has an open ear to listen, the Christian life is hard! I’m not going to paint a false picture of what the Christian life is like, it is full of hardships and it usually gets harder as you grow in your faith. The further you develop your relationship with God, the greater the chances that life is going to be tough. I won’t clarify this with ‘but, but, but…’ however, I will say what is your life worth in the light of eternity? I won’t explore this here, but feel free to ask me if you want to know why I choose to live a life that promises, yes promises, hardship.
Continuing on, James says:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations. James isn’t playing nice, is he? First, trials. Now, perseverance. You have to persevere? There’s no escape route? This really isn’t sounding all that nice. Yet, let me ask you to think about this logically. (You can think about faith logically? Peter, what are you thinking…hehe)
Let me use the illustration of muscles. In order for muscles to grow, they go through a process of, well, being torn. When you exercise, do weights, any physical work of some description, the fibres in your muscles are stretched and torn. Then, you allow them rest (this is where you get to sleep) and they recover and mend themselves. In doing so, they get stronger.
In the same way, our faith, in order to grow, need to go through a process of being tested and in this case, tested through trials. Trials will break us and make us crumble, but we learn and we heal and become stronger as a result. Then, another trial comes and if the trial is the same as previously, we are capable to deal with it if we’ve become stronger. Normally though, the trial gets harder and we’re broken again, we learn again, we heal again and again, become stronger. That’s life, isn’t it?
If you have any questions about the Christian life, please contact me and I’ll be happy to answer any questions.
Again, I won’t deny that life is hard. The Christian life is, definitely, hard. Yet, our faith in God gets us through. There’s so many questions that you can ask. However, after 23 years of living the Christian life and seeing many faithful Christians around me, I cannot deny the strength and provision of the God I profess to believe in.
Life will throw its fast balls and curve balls with all its might, but I will break, I will heal and I will stand again to bat another day. For every time I fall, I stand again stronger and I am forever grateful for the God who allows me represent Him at the batter’s plate of life.