During my time as a pastor, people’s responses to Christianity has radically changed. In the early days of ministry, Christianity was perceived to be irrelevant. It was just one choice among the many. But in the last decade, Christianity is seen as a threat or evil to the social good.

How do you respond when you are told that the faith you believe is not just irrelevant but does harm to the social good? For some people, they react with despair. They want to retreat into the shadows. For others, they want to fight back.

Surprisingly, the book of James comes to us with this type of scenario. The letter of James, which may be the earliest written book of the New Testament, comes to us as a general letter written from either James the brother of Jesus or James the apostle during their time in Jerusalem. After Stephen’s martyrdom (Acts 7:54-8:1a), we are told that the Jewish believers fled Jerusalem and scattered (Acts 8:1b).

In this context, the letter of James is written. To those in the dispersion (Jas. 1:1), James wants Christians to be single-minded (Jas. 1:5-8), joyful in the face of trials (Jas. 1:2-4), and not resorting to the typical patterns of human sinfulness: posturing for power (Jas. 2:1-13), selfishness rather than care (Jas. 2:14-26), lashing out with nasty words (Jas. 3:1-12), and using worldly ways of power (4:1-12). He writes to “the brothers” – probably the leaders of the scattered believers – and urges them to be exemplary in their way of life by seeing the wisdom from above that doesn’t shift like shadows (Jas. 1:17) but is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere (Jas. 3:17).

Instead of being harsh or angry, Christians who have lost their cultural influence and power should be patient like Job and the prophets, waiting for God’s judgment to come (Jas. 5:7-12) and being prayerful like Elijah (Jas. 5:17), seeking to do good to one another by caring for the sick (Jas. 5:13-16), rescuing one another from wandering (Jas. 5:19-20), and caring for the most vulnerable among them (Jas. 1:27).

So what do you do when Christianity is perceived to be a threat to the social order? You seek the wisdom of heaven and love one another all the more. Christianity is intended to show that friendship with God (Jas. 4:4) is the singlemindedness that fulfills the law of the kingdom (Jas. 2:8) and actually does what Leviticus 19 commanded: loving your neighbour as you love yourself because Jesus is our Lord and God (see Lev. 19:9-18).

When we follow these ways, we do not conform to the patterns of this world. Instead of being friends of the world, we live as friends of God (Jas. 4:4) and live in the humble place where God pours out his grace (Jas. 4:6). This is the non-conformist movement of resistance that God approves (Jas. 4:4-10).

Do you want to make a difference in this world? Join me in the resistance. Let’s follow the wisdom from above, and maybe we will see more and more of God’s grace.

Looking for more wisdom,


Prepare your heart for Sunday by reading the passage and listening to the songs we’ll sing.