Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Pilgrims on a Quest: James 1:1

Everyone of us is on a quest. This quest is the journey to find life. Books like The Purpose Driven Life and The Secret remind us that people are looking for a life of more than just existence. The problem is that there is only one source of life, and unless our quest is saturated with this source of life then our journey is in vain. Only when we make God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, the foundation of our quest will we be able to discover what we are looking for.

What is this quest of life about? To put it simply it is about becoming the people God created us to be. In that often used passage of Scripture, Ephesians 2:10, the Apostle Paul wrote: For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them (NASB). To me it seem rather obvious, from the testimony of Scripture at least, that life is found in walking the path that God created us to walk.

The book of James is a letter written to followers of Jesus who are walking this path, who are on this quest to become the people God has created them to be. Through his letter James offers to help us along this journey. We see this in the very first verse of the book:
James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings (James 1:1; NASB).


I like the description J.A. Motyer gave concerning the twelve tribes in his commentary on James.
“James brings these lines of Bible truth together and so sets the scene for his letter. Better than any other description could, the twelve tribes place the church firmly within the pressures and persecutions of this life. We can think of our ancestral tribes in the storm and stress of Egyptian slavery (Ex. 2:23), redeemed by the blood of the lamb (Ex. 12:13), on pilgrimage with God through the ‘great and terrible wilderness’ (Dt. 8:15; cf. Ex. 15:22), battling to enter into what the Lord had promised (Jos. 1:2) and struggling ever after to live in holiness amid the enticements of a pagan environment. These are the experiences through which James would have his readers understand their pilgrim path. They are the Lord’s twelve tribes and they are dispersed throughout a menacing and testing world. Their homeland is elsewhere and they have not yet come to take up their abode there. Their present lot is to feel the weight of life’s pressures, the lure of this world’s temptations and an insidious, ever-present encouragement to conform to the standards of their pagan environment. They are the Lord’s people indeed, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb himself--but not yet home” (The Message of James; pgs. 24-25).

Ultimately we will only become the people God created us to be when we enter into all that He has promised us, and that time is when we make our home in Heaven. That journey to get there is a tough one. It requires us to trust God and to ignore the the temptations of the world around us. Are we willing to live this pilgrim life?

One the benefits of living in a country such as the United States is the lack of persecution that we have to face for what we believe. Followers of Jesus do not need to be afraid for the lives or financial situation because of their faith. Sure we face ridicule and see things that we hold dear mocked, but real persecution isn’t a real part of our lives.

The biggest problem we face is the lure of the world around us. We are constantly tempted to compromise and settle for the world’s standard rather than the standard God has given us. It is easier to go with the flow than it is to fight against it. So the American Church is not different in terms of divorce, drug abuse, pornography use, and any other moral standard than the world around us.

The example of the faithful people that have come before us and the testimony of the Bible is that this quest to become the people God created us to be is not easy. It is hard, difficult and dangerous. It isn’t about discovering the life you have always wanted or having your best life now, but it is about trusting God through the ups and downs of life. It isn’t even about having a life of significance, but it is about a life of survival. How can we read through Hebrews chapter 11 and think that the life of faith is anything but a life of sacrifice and going against the current of culture. How can we think that the Christian life is about a life of significance when so many have been killed in anonymity?

This journey to discover life, to become the people God created us to be, starts with surrendering our lives to Jesus Christ and it ends with all the joy and love that Heaven has to offer. But in between those two events lies a life of difficulty and hardship through which our faith in God will be tested time and time again. This is not a walk in the park but a journey through the wilderness and all the dangers that come with it.

James to be our guide on this quest. Will you take the time to read what he has to say?

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