Sunday, December 14, 2014

This week's lesson (December 3-19): prayer, healing, and restoration

Is any of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. . . . My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover a multitude of sins. -- James 5:14-16, 19-20, NIV.
Following Jesus is like baseball: yes, you can practice on your own . . .

But sooner or later, you need a team.

In the last few verses of his letter, for instance, James takes it for granted you're part of a church; what's more, he makes it clear that church is not a place where autonomous individuals arrive, enjoy the program, then go their separate ways. Instead, he says that "church" is a place where believers:
  • Pray for each other,
  • Are honest with each other,
  • And get after each other when the need arises.
None of this happens unless you hang out with other believers on a regular basis -- and no, that's that easy; that's why James spent most of his letter discussing things that can go wrong when believers hang out together.
But "just me and Jesus" is not enough.
"Spiritual but not religious" is not enough.
And while I sympathize with people who are "just not into organized religion," the fact remains: you can't play the game all by yourself.
Not unless you want to be way off-base.

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