James – Inside Out and Upside Down

thePsalmist on January 13th, 2010

To begin 2010 at St Thomas’ Church I’ve set us the task of preaching through the whole book of James, or rather the letter of James.

James is an awesome letter – but also downright horrid. James isn’t the sort of letter you get from your nan. James is the sort of letter you get from the bank when you’ve gone well over the limit … uncomfortable and slightly panic inducing! It makes you wonder whether there’s any way forward, and makes you wonder what on earth you’ve been living life like.

But ultimately James is the most wonderfully revitalising thing to read because it infuses new life, new values, new purpose into your everyday living. James is awesome!

The tagline for James is ‘Inside Out & Upside Down‘, … and for very good reason! Everything about James is topsy turvy for starters, but that’s not really the reason behind the tagline. But in terms of topsy turvyness at least just look at the second verse … “consider it pure joy…when you face many kinds of trials!” …oh great! Oh yeah, Praise the Lord, I’m utterly screwed! Thank you Lord, I’m in prison for my faith and I’ve just had my bones broken, my teeth smashed and my finger nails pulled out. I’m so happy to be a christian! … or for us in the comfy western world’s 2010: “Praise the Lord, I’m so chuffed to be stuck in a dead end job, mortgaged up to the hilt, in piles of debt with miserable kids and a stomach ulcer!”

Life is full of trials and even fuller of temptations. When they come and smack us in the face we’re meant to be pleased about it … according to James!

It’s topsy turvy! …but with very good reason!

More than that though, it’s very deliberately a call to base our lives on a set of values which are utterly Inside-Out and Upside-Down.

James is a book which challenges us not just to read the word of God and insert it into our brain via a quiet read over a cup of tea, but to get off our backsides and actually live out what it says … and the rest of God’s word. It is a letter which challenges us out of our comfortable little world of idealised faith which sits neatly in our little heads making us feel smug about ourselves and sends us out into the world to actually live out what we believe in the everyday situations we find ourselves in. It takes our inner, invisible, silent faith and pushes it out onto our sleeves, into our words, our actions, our relationships, our jobs, our spending habits, our walk along the street, our every part of the lifestyle we live … it turns us Inside-Out.

“Do not merely read the word of God and so decieve yourselves … DO what it says!!”

It’s also Upside-Down in the most remarkable way. James calls us to bring the stuff of God, the stuff that’s normally thought of as being ‘Up’ there, down here into our everyday lives and the world we live in! Literally, the call by James, is to bring the Upside stuff of God DOWN here into the everyday pratical world in which we live.

It is inside-out & upside-down!

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