Year of Scripture – James

Reading for:
Day 355 – Saturday, December 21

As a Lutheran Pastor, I’ve got to deal with the obvious . . . If you know anything about Martin Luther, than you have probably heard that Luther commonly called James “the epistle of straw.” Luther didn’t like James. He didn’t feel it was worthy of being included in the Bible. He disagreed with it’s theology, and thought it was rather pointless of a reading/writing.

Why would Luther feel such a way?

The simple answer revolves around the three “Sola’s”. These Latin pharases, “Sola Scriptura”, “Sola Gratia”, and “Sola Fide” translate accordingly to by Scripture Alone, by Grace Alone, and by Faith Alone.” For many these three statements define the heart and mind of Luther, and it certainly reflects well Paul’s words to the Ephesians, “You are saved by grace through faith.” However, James challenges that thought process by including this little thing called “works.”

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”
(James 2:14-17)

You can see where one may struggle with this. However lets be clear, works alone do not provide the means to salvation. Only Jesus can do that! This is where Luther struggled with James. However, I believe James makes a valid point, works are important, because they are an expression of our faith. If we are living out our baptismal covenant, Faith calls us to action to care for the least of these. That is our “work” as James would remind us. Simply saying “I believe” is not enough, but sharing our faith in our actions and care for one another is our moral obligation as followers of Jesus Christ.

So lets get to work in the name of Christ!

Pastor Bailey