All through his life, you see, James got pushed outside his comfort zone.
- As a devout Jew, he found it difficult to believe Jesus was the Messiah (cf. Mark 3:32-35).
- Having accepted Jesus as the Messiah, it would seem that he and his followers found it difficult to believe Gentiles could do the same (cf. Galatians 2:12).
- And even after James brokered the compromise that let Gentile be Christians (cf. Acts 15:13-29), he still felt pressure from Jewish Christians -- Jewish Christians who followed the Law, and thought Paul should do so too (cf. Acts 21:17-25).
As a leader, in other words, James faced pressure from both sides: Jewish and Gentile, conservative and liberal . . .
And as a leader, James did his best to bring together both sides.
Compare the Epistle of James with his speech to the Council in Jerusalem, for instance. Both take place at roughly the same time -- and in both, James emphasizes the need for love and unity in the church.
Not an easy task, then or now.
But then as now, we need people who are willing to make the effort.
Even if it's a stretch.