Saturday, June 25, 2011

James 4: the way of greed vs. the way of grace

sorry for the delay in posting for chapter 4! i've had the design done in pencil for a while, but haven't had the chance to get it polished up. 

chapter 4 was full of cause and effects, which makes for a nice, pretty flow chart. it all begins with 'desires that battle within' - ie: SIN.  as in many other passages in scripture, there appears to be a choice between two paths: friendship with the world (enmity with God) or humility before God. the crazy thing though, is that it isn't our own actions that get us what we want. it is all about grace. 

"Come near to God and he will come near to you." (8a) 

It is God who comes near to us. we do have to make the choice to submit ourselves to him in every way, recognizing our sin, but it is God ultimately who comes near to us and changes the entire flow of the flowchart! this is the Gospel! 

thank you Jesus, for giving up your life so that we could have intimacy and friendship with God our Maker. thank you that we no longer have to go down the way of greed because you have provided the way of grace!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

James 3: it only takes a spark...

click to enlarge
 I kind of struggled this week to figure out how to visually represent this chapter. In the end I had to go with something simpler than what I imagined. But I was struck by James' use of many different metaphors to express the way that a person's speech (tongue) can have a huge impact on the person as a whole. There were all these small-ish things that had a large impact. A horse can be turned one way or another by the bit in its mouth. A ship is steered by a small rudder. A forest fire is created from just one spark. 

5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 

James isn't just talking about an individual person's speech affecting that same individual person. He actually begins the chapter by warning people that 'not many of us should become teachers'. Why? It's because he realizes the impact an influencing agent can have on the larger community. The tongue has great potential for bad but also for good. It's a warning but also a challenge. Those of us who are in leadership positions, especially those of us who speak often (verbally or otherwise), have great potential for good and bad influence. What are we going to do with the power and potential given to us?