Loving Our Neighbor into the Kingdom

Jane Olson

READ : James 5:19-20

[W]hoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death. (v. 20)

Christian morality often gets a bad rap. Our culture depicts Christians as puritanical prudes who try to force their beliefs on others while hypocritically violating them themselves. The philosopher Bertrand Russell once wrote, “The Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.”

Some Christians respond to criticism by retreating. Rather than engage those around us, we cordon ourselves off into Christian subcultures—we have Christian friends, watch Christian entertainment, and read Christian books without worrying about the world around us. But these final verses of James remind us that Christians are called to be living testimonies in the world where God has placed us.

Our challenge is not to live lives divorced from our culture but to work for the salvation of sinners. We can start by doing our best to be the kind of person James describes in this epistle: someone who practices what he preaches, who patiently endures suffering, who doesn't have a whiff of snobbery or partiality, who refuses to gossip, who is humble, who trusts God for the future, who works and prays fervently for the welfare of those around him, and who is motivated by a desire to win others to Christ. That's the kind of attractive life that “brings back a sinner” to God.

PRAYER

Lord, I want to live the life of holy witness to which you have called me.