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Is Your Faith Part-Time?

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Part-Time Faith

There is a problem that the church faces. It has faced it for years, but in resent years it has become more wide spread. The church has become less vital in the lives of its people.
Part-time religion - like part time anything...
lack of regular attendance, unwillingness to share your talents
Giving to support the work of the church.
James encourages us to reject the temptation to play church… this impiety is a lack of reverence for God.
The impious life is the life that assumes God hides out in His little heaven and leaves us alone on earth to run our own show...
This should no be. Rather a vital community of believers brings God into every part of human existence. his is the necessary starting point for building an authentic Christian community - the realization of God’s constant presence and involvement in our lives.
In this final chapter in the Book of James he presents a picture of what a authentic, wholehearted faith would look like. He speaks of the attitudes and actions that characterize the genuine Christian Community.

Authentic Spirituality

The problem with a part-time church that it is not much more than a gathering individuals.
It is a place were people are typically left to their own designs to deal with the ups and downs of life...
The Christian community James portrays is much different. The intentional transparency of authentic spirituality comes through clearly.
13 If any of you are suffering, they should pray. If any of you are happy, they should sing. 14 If any of you are sick, they should call for the elders of the church, and the elders should pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 Prayer that comes from faith will heal the sick, for the Lord will restore them to health. And if they have sinned, they will be forgiven.
When we look at the passage in its entirety it gives us the advantage of seeing the whole picture. And Wholeness is what God intended for each of us.
James: A Bible Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition Chapter 16: The Disposition of Authentic Spirituality (James 5:13–16a)

Instead of religious faith being something that a person “uses” when convenient, James wants his readers to know that true religion is an all-encompassing way of life.

This is the essence of “wisdom” thinking in Jewish tradition. The Law was given to help us live in heath, productive ways. Not to make life hard… some see rules that way - restrictive rather than freeing to live full lives.
If you are in trouble (James 5:13), you are not in it by yourself. You can pray!
The word trouble refers to the very kinds of hardships that must be endured through perseverance....
Yes, life is difficult, and it can be filled with troubles. But we are not out there on our own. We must cultivate the attitudes and actions that characterize the genuine Christian that of prayerfulness in our lives. We must nurture a habit of mind and soul, the practice of taking everything in our lives into the presence of a loving giving God. Prayer is as natural as breathing in the practice of true Christian faith.

If you are happy, then praise God and sing. (5:13)

Life is meant to be and act of worship. This is a recognition of all those gifts God gives to us… world black& White instead of Color, alone - companionship...
Actually, this use of the word happy is directly related to the reference to the word trouble used by James earlier. The word happy - being cheerful - has the idea of being encouraged in the midst of hardship. I need that how about you.
Paul’s Shipwreck - bas storm - fear of losing life - Paul encouraged them twice - Keep up their courage, because God had assured Paul that they would survive. Paul ate & they ate as well.
Thus, to be happy is not necessarily related to everything going your way, but it is to experience joy in the midst of difficulty.
This Christian characteristic makes worship something extremely sacred in the eyes of God. The essence of true Christian worship is that people in the midst of life’s experiences - some good, some bad - pause in order to include God in those experience.
In troubling times, real believers seek after God in prayer as the compassionate and merciful Father who give what is lacking to all who seek in authentic faith.
In times of victory and triumph, God is properly celebrated as the Giver of every good gift. He is recognized as the One who is part of every element of our lives and present with us through it all.

Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.

James says in essence in verse 14, “If anyone is sick, he is not alone.”
The reality of authentic Christian community makes such concerns community concerns.
Prayer Time…
Oil (Oil has long been the symbol of the presence of the Holy Spirit) To anoint a sick person with oil is to acknowledge the presence of God and His willingness to be a part of this circumstance of human life.
Actually, the word Sick, can also be rendered weak. ( Not just physically ill)
Recall the story of the paralyzed Man (Mark 2:1-2) - friends - lower roof -was healed by Jesus - after he forgave him his sins.
One of the first things that strike us about the story is “Whose Faith” is at issue in healing a sick person.
Combination of the faith of the paralytic man and his friends
If that was the case then James is saying that the faith of the sick person in calling the elders in the first place, combined with the faith of the praying elders themselves, is what brings healing.
The second striking feature from the Mark 2 story, in applying it here (James) is the way the physical healing is combined with spiritual healing or forgiveness.
Jesus forgave sins before he healed him. It was in response to the reaction of the crowd to granting forgiveness that prompted to healing.
The significance is while healing is certainly a possibility when we pray, not everyone is likely to be healed. Failing to be healed isn’t eternally significant. But failing to be be forgiven is.
Jame’s desire to link physical and spiritual healing is in the best tradition of vital Christianity. The ultimate issue with which praying elders ought to be concerned has to do with forgiveness.
Life in a genuine Christian community is life lived apart from pretense...
It assumes honesty and truthfulness, authentic love for one another. In that kind of environment, healing can be accomplished because much of the healing process involves confession, or “coming clean.” Forgiveness.
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