Saturday, January 3, 2009
Humble yourselves before God
Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures. Adulterers! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you suppose that it is for nothing that the scripture says, "God yearns jealously for the spirit that he has made to dwell in us"? But he gives all the more grace; therefore it says,
"God opposes the proud,
but gives grace to the humble."
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
-Comments: Karen Armstrong says that religion is a call to transformation. James understands that too. The call of the Spirit is to the reformation of the heart. To repent,to be transformed requires humility. Humility, that sense of recognizing that I am not the center of the universe is the beginning place of all faith. Without humility it is impossible to submit to God.
James’ theology was that the world was evil. I do not agree with that theology, but James was talking about the social systems that ruled his day. Social systems often are laced with values that are contrary to faith. They are generally about power, security and making money. But James was trying to assure the followers of Jesus that they were on the right track by being opposed to the social structures of his day. Christianity, I believe, must be counter-cultural as Jesus was counter-cultural. Faith in God says that loving others is more important than power.