For the past two days we have been exploring traits of a strong Christian. So far in our exploration of the life of James - the half brother of Jesus according to the flesh, we have discovered the following traits:
1. Strong Christians, like James, have a Personal Testimony
2. Strong Christians, like James, Prioritize Spiritual Maturity
In today's post we will notice the third trait of a strong Christianity, namely a Passion for Jesus Christ
James' passion for Jesus' Lordship
As you look at the life of James, the strong Christian, you see the passion he had for the Lordship of Jesus Christ. In James 1:1 we see the NASB and most English translations render James as being a "bond-servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ". In the original text, the term translated "bond-servant" is better translated "slave". As a slave, James is recognizing that he is not his own, he has been bought with a price. (compare 1 Corinthians 6:19-20) As a slave of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, James clearly recognizes himself as the follower, and Jesus as the Master.
Unlike 19th century slavery in America, where slaves were viewed as no better than animals, first century slaves in many instances had the potential to have a good life in accordance to the nature of their master. The idea of "Lordship" assumes there having to be a slave. In spiritual terms, this concept carries with it that the nature of the slave comes to mirror the nature of the Master. Romans 6:16 explains - "Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?" 2 Peter 2:19b states even more briefly - "for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved."
James was touched by God's saving grace to see Jesus for who He truly is - Lord. Though growing up in the same household as Jesus, nevertheless the veiled Deity of God the Son was made known in Christ's post-resurrection appearance to James. (1 Corinthians 15:7). James' passion for Jesus stemmed from the fact that He prized the Lordship of Jesus.
James' passion to live for Jesus
The pages of history tell us of the passion that James had for Jesus Christ. Eusebius, the first church historian, tells the story of how James, the half-brother of Jesus and author of the self-named Epistle was passionate for Jesus due to His desire to live for Jesus. Writing in the fourth century, Eusebius notes the following about James from Book 2, chapter 23:4-7 of his work "Ecclesiastical History":
"4. James, the brother of the Lord, succeeded to the government of the Church in conjunction with the apostles. He has been called the Just by all from the time of our Saviour to the present day; for there were many that bore the name of James. 5. He was holy from his mother's womb; and he drank no wine nor strong drink, nor did he eat flesh. No razor came upon his head; he did not anoint himself with oil, and he did not use the bath. 6. He alone was permitted to enter into the holy place; for he wore not woolen but linen garments. And he was in the habit of entering alone into the temple, and was frequently found upon his knees begging forgiveness for the people, so that his knees became hard like those of a camel, in consequence of his constantly bending them in his worship of God, and asking forgiveness for the people. 7. Because of his exceeding great justice he was called the Just, and Oblias, which signifies in Greek, 'Bulwark of the people' and 'Justice,' in accordance with what the prophets declare concerning him.'"
James' life centered around the Lord and His interests. He loved to live for Jesus and He was serious about Christ's Lordship - two essential ingredients for a strong, passionate Christianity. Are you and I passionate about Jesus' authority, Lordship over our life? Are you and I passionate about living for Jesus?
As we close today's blog, I'm reminded of the first stanza of the precious hymn: "Living for Jesus" by Thomas O. Chisholm, written in 1917:
"Living for Jesus, a life that is true,
Striving to please Him in all that I do;
Yielding allegiance, glad-hearted and free,
This is the pathway of blessing for me.
O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee,
For Thou, in Thy atonement, didst give Thyself for me;
I own no other Master, my heart shall be Thy throne;
My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone."