The Feast of James the Just

Morning Devotion October 23rd Isaiah 50:4-9; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard. I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting. Because the Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced.

James the Just, was the brother of Jesus and son of Joseph and Mary. Until the resurrected Jesus appeared to him (1 Corinthians 15:7) it would seem that he was unconvinced about the Lordship of Jesus. But then he changed his mind, he became the first head of the Church and today we celebrate his feast day. What caused him to change his mind? Was it the resurrection appearance, was it the way in which he saw Jesus tormented and put to death?

Thinking about this, it is an interesting thing to change one’s mind about someone whom you have known all or most of your life. It takes some major thing to eclipse all the past assumptions. Having become a follower of Jesus at the age of 27 years (I changed my mind!) there are many who struggle to comprehend that change. School friends and University pals and workplace colleagues have all struggled to understand and many have just shrugged the shoulders and walked away. When I was ordained into the ministry there were no figures from my past to cheer or jeer. It was the new community only who were there.

I think that you might actually have to be part of someone’s conversion process in order to be both old and new community. The change that comes when you choose to be a Christ follower is often so dramatic that the old community are (or cannot be) part of it. I have no-one from my pre-conversion community that I can still count as a close friend, with the exception of my wife , who was an integral part of my conversion. 

What do we learn from this? Well, I guess that the best place to be is right smack bang in the middle of someone’s conversion – we are all called to be witnesses, are we not?

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