Jesus Creed

JesusJames*.jpgThere are three basic approaches to suffering: violent reaction, passive absorption, or the Jesus-following alternative of living aright while waiting for God to bring about justice. James prefers the third option, so it seems to me. Notice the emphasis on God’s just judgment that is coming in 5:7-9:

Be patient,
then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for
the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the
autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!

I believe there is a needed emphasis for some today on the importance of life now and a de-emphasis on trying to escape this life. Yes, with that needed emphasis there can be a total eclipse of final justice. Both Jesus and James do not surrender final justice in their radical commitment to justice now.

The key for me that moves James out of the 1st and 2d alternatives, though his words may evoke more passivism than some prefer and though he doesn’t state “fight for justice now, and fight hard,” is this expression: “Stand firm.” There is livid protest in 5:1-6 by James, and there is a completely re-shaped alternative in 1:19-21 etc, but James does not fall for absorption or escapism. He calls the messianists, suffering though they may be and powerless that they are, to stand firm in doing what is right, following Jesus, and witnessing to an alternative reality by embodying the Jesus Creed when they see suffering (2:1-10).

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