At Redeemer we are now in the middle of preaching through the biblical letter of James. I’m taking it in small bites, while keeping the broader context always in view.
James is calling his messianic Jesus-following readers to understand the spiritual and moral break they are to make with the massive surrounding Roman culture. They are to have their desires disengaged from status, power, and wealth (at the expense of the poor), and desire the true wisdom that is from above.
James is simple to understand and very deep. This is a glorious combination, and a challenge and joy to preach it to our people.
Maintaining the qualitative distinction between the Real Jesus and American culture is the calling of every pastor and, indeed, every follower of Christ. This calling must be constantly placed before us.
Eugene Peterson writes:
“Pastors are in charge of keeping the distinction between the world's lies and the gospel's truth clear. Not only pastors, of course - every baptized Christian is part of this - but pastors are placed in a strategic, countercultural position. Our place in society is, in some ways, unique: no one else occupies this exact niche that looks so inoffensive fensive but is in fact so dangerous to the status quo. We are committed to keeping the proclamation alive and to looking after souls in a soul-denying, denying, soul-trivializing age.” (Peterson and Dawn, The Unnecessary Pastor: Rediscovering the Call, Kindle Locations 65-68)