Introduction to Chapter 2
The most important question to ask of ourselves as we embark on this study is how willing we are to see this through, the ‘So What? What difference will this make to my life? Let us go on an adventure together.
Share any stories when you have met someone who you have found out to be completely different from what you expected …
‘Mercy triumphs over judgment’: says James in Chapter 2.13. I wonder whether we have we experienced God’s mercy in our lives? How do we express our thankful hearts? Do we have stories to share to encourage each other?
Perhaps we have not yet experienced God’s mercy. Maybe also our experience of life has been wounding. How can we come alongside one another? Here is a prayer from Brother Roger of Taizé, to read, pray, respond to God, perhaps sing (Amazing grace?):
“Living God, you want us to have hearts that are completely simple,
to the point that the complicated things of life do not bring us to a halt.
Through the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Risen Christ,
you come to open up a way for us, a way that is possible;
on it we understand that you love us first, before we loved you”
Two topics are top of the list in this Chapter – making judgements about others and trying to live our Christian faith without any action. Read in sections, preferably in a variety of translations, Section 1: Chapter 2.1-13; Section 2: Chapter 2.14-26. I suggest that you pick one or other of these sections and spend the whole study with them, go deep, wrestle with Scripture, make life-changing discoveries about God and ourselves. Use the marginal cross-references to learn about the teaching of the whole Bible.
Word - Questions to think about
Section 1: Chapter 2.1-13
- In the early church, how was favouritism expressed and why?
- James suggests that the reasons for this are not logical. Why do you think people choose favourites in the church?
- Can you find the source of the commandments that James restates?
- Which stories and teachings of Jesus reveal God the Father as a God of mercy?
- Think deeply about the meaning of mercy in our lives. What other words can we use? How would we explain this to a friend?
Section 2: Chapter 2.14-26
- Which parables of Jesus speak of the same theme?
- Describe false faith and false love [1 John 3.17]. Describe the opposite.
- How did the two Old Testament characters express their faith in God?
- Think about ‘justification by faith’, Romans 3.24, and how James’ letter and Paul’s teaching might be similar and different. Compare with Galatians 2.15-21; 5.6; 6.7-10.
So What? What difference will this make to my life?
This is the key question: is God asking me to change anything about the way I think, live or behave? If so, what might be my first step to making such changes with his help?
Are there any words for our congregations in Whitewater?
Ask someone who has worked with, for example, the Basingstoke Night Light Winter Shelter, about their experience that has opened their eyes to God’s love and acceptance.
Can we make a decision to go out of our way to get to know someone who does not look, speak, dress, live like we do? Can we meet with them, accept and learn from them?
If we can, let’s do that, and come back to share with others.
William Barclay. The New Daily Study Bible. The letters of James and Peter © 1976, 2003. Saint Andrew Press.
Martin Young. Brave: Faith and Works. Spring Harvest Bible Study on James © 2018. Essential Christian.
New International Study Bible. © 1973, 1978, 1984. International Bible Society. 1985. Zondervan Corporation
Life from Within. Prayer by Brother Roger of Taizé © 1990. Geoffrey Chapman Mowbray