II JAMES 10
NO CELEBRITY STATUS IN HEAVEN
James begins the second chapter by calling his readers “brothers”. Even though he is obviously one of the leaders of the church in Jerusalem, he wants to make it clear that he is still their equal in the family of God. The highest level you can attain in the family of the Lord is “brother”, for we are all equal in His sight.
To emphasize and give full force to this fact, James says that he is astounded to realize that some of them are practicing respect of persons. His point is that anyone who is a follower of Jesus Christ and claims Him as their Savior and Lord must act as He would act,
and that means to see all of God’s creatures as one in His sight. There is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, bond nor free, as Paul
says repeatedly in his letters.
This further emphasizes the completeness with which James wants his hearers not only to believe in Jesus Christ, but to allow it to determine their thinking, and the way they treat their fellowman. The advent of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, into the world, was to bring the message of God’s love for mankind. Society judges a person by his wealth, his talent, his social standing, but in God’s Kingdom no such standards exist. The criterion for citizenship in that Kingdom is faith in Jesus Christ and in the love of God, which is the only thing that offers hope for any of us. Every time I read of the death of some celebrity in the newspaper, I cannot help but think that his celebrity status is now ended. I only hope he had the more important credential of faith in Jesus Christ that a merciful God can accept to open the place Jesus has gone to prepare for all who belong to Him.
The main point James is making in this whole book, as I see it, is that if one really believes in Jesus Christ it should change his whole view of life. If your faith is real, it should make you stop thinking like an ordinary man of the world, and become a disciple whose every thought and action is governed by what He would have you do. This is what it means to have a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ”.
As James makes a strong case against being a respecter of persons, I think of C.S.Lewis, who felt that pride was the besetting sin of mankind. He said that pride killed all motivations of love, and all other good influences in one’s life. We have respect of persons because recognizing them makes us feel more important. Almost every sin, beginning with Adam in the Garden of Eden, can be traced to personal pride. But none of us can be good enough to impress God, and no matter how hard we try (as Paul said), we are still sinners. That is the reason Jesus came to tell us God is merciful and forgiving, if we will accept Jesus Christ as the Lord of our life. Not just believe that He lived and died on the Cross, but let that belief translate into a life changed by Him, and different from a life dictated by our earth-man, or the standards of the society in which we live. It is hard, but James tells us to use every worldly pressure to strengthen our spiritual muscles, and make us more like the King.
“Love God and love your neighbor as yourself” makes one who has faith in God have a responsibility to all of His creatures.