September 18, 2020

LifeDate Fall 2020

by James M. Kushiner, The Fellowship of St. James

I am not one, generally, to respond quickly to situations and challenges. But as events unfold, what patterns are emerging? …

There are two things about St. James that also may be timely. First, he was known and respected for his pious life that featured constant prayer and fervent intercession for the people—he was on his knees so much they became “hard as a camel’s” as one translation puts it. Our society needs such prayers of the Church. Christians should consider a rule of prayer and fasting for the remainder of 2020.

Secondly, James lived on the cusp of dramatic change, uncertainty, and violence. His murder in AD 62, say some ancient commentators, marked the beginning of troubles in Jerusalem leading to the cataclysmic Jewish Revolt and the end of Judaism as the Jews knew it in AD 70 with the destruction of the Temple. The Christians of Jerusalem were strong enough under James’s leadership to survive—they resisted the pressures to join the ill-fated revolt and removed themselves across the Jordan while Jerusalem was engulfed in civil strife and military assault. James’s example of fidelity and insistence on real Christian obedience and not mere talk is more timely now than ever. Are we prepared for the worst? We should be. We’ve been warned to be ready to meet the Master on His return. There will be no excuses we can make.

Also, in a time of “racial” tensions and economically-inspired calls for the revolution of structures and systems, James’s razor-sharp denunciation of pandering to wealth and of making distinctions between believers is timely. My fellow editors have reminded me that “race” isn’t in the Bible, so what is “racism”?

Christians are to show no partiality whatsoever. My brother in Christ who happens to have more melanin than I have in the paper-thin upper level of our skin—while all the skin below the paper is the same—is not of a different race than I. So-called “race” is not even skin deep! That’s mere upper-skin coloring, not race. Varying levels of mere melanin indicate that we’re all coffee beans—some are blonde roast, some are medium or dark or espresso roast, but we’re all coffee, we’re all colored people.

Racial labels and theories, including supremacy, are the inventions of outdated “scientific” thinking. We’d do well to be rid of them all. Doing that will take time, but we should stop talking about race in this way.

We pray in our services for “the race of man” not the races of man. There is only one race. All else are ethnic, national, cultural, or other differences. We’ve past histories to trouble us to be sure—like the Irish and the English, the Jew and the Christian, the Greek and the Ottoman Turk, and the slave and the slave owner—but there is no place from which a genuine reconciliation can emerge today, except in Christ. The goal is fellowship, brotherhood in Christ.

Society should address every act of injustice and partiality based on ethnicity, and not allow politicians to use envy or “race” for election ploys. “Wisdom from above” is needed, says James, lest there be “wars among you.” Resist the calls to revolution and repair to the One who is able to bring all men together, at the Cross.

From Friday Reflections,, 7/31/20.