I was reading through James this morning. One of my favourite methods of reading is to read out loud, for as I read I can hear both with my eyes and with my ears. Reading out loud forces me to concentrate more on what is being said.
It’s easy when reading silently for your mind to wander onto a variety of subjects and when you finish you think, what was that I just read…its a bit harder to do that when reading aloud. Though, I will admit, that my ADD mind still managed to jump around just a little.
One of the things that come to me when reading through James is his overall concern as a pastor for his flock to live humble lives and that a humble life is a wise life, and a wise life is a good life, and a good life does good for his neighbours as well as he does for himself. Simply put, we cannot say we live for God if we don’t live for others as well.
The next thing I noticed is the great unity of James with the rest of the New Testament. I have heard too many say that James is the epistle of straw. The crunch is that if James doesn’t fit into your New Testament doctrinal system, then your doctrinal system is flawed and you need to rethink your interpretive method of reading and understanding the Scriptures. This point of rethinking our interpretive method is not just for James, but for all of Scripture, and is pivotal for us to truly understand and grow in our knowledge of the word, knowing the giver of the word and our outworking of the word.
All of us have favourite verses, passages and books in the Bible. And we all have our least favourites also. My question to you today is “Why?” Could it be that its our least favourite because it doesn’t fit into our doctrinal system of belief? And on the reverse of that coin, are our favourite verses the ones that reinforce our doctrinal beliefs the most? And if so, could it be that our doctrinal systems of belief are preventing us from coming to know the word of God in its fullness?
Now don’t get me wrong here, for I believe doctrine is extremely important in our growth and maturity as Christians. But the question before us all is the challenging one of is it our knowledge of the word that drives our doctrinal system, or is it our prior doctrinal system which drives our knowledge and understanding of the word, and will cause us to skip over certain passages because they just don’t fit neatly into our doctrinal packages.