By Derwin L. Gray
James was the half-brother of Jesus and, like most siblings, they had a complicated relationship.
In Mark 3:21 (CSB) we see a difficult interaction they had: “When his family heard this, they set out to restrain him, because they said, ‘He’s out of his mind.’”
Clearly, James didn’t believe Jesus was the Messiah. Do you ever wonder what it must have been like to be James? Was he embarrassed of his brother? Did he find Jesus to be annoying—or even dangerous?
As we continue our reading of the New Testament, we see James had a change of heart. He even has a book in the Bible that is all about putting our faith in Jesus into action.
How did James go from saying Jesus was out of His mind to becoming a leader in the early Church?
“For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. Then he appeared to over five hundred brothers and sisters at one time; most of them are still alive, but some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles” (1 Corinthians 15:3-7, CSB).
James had an encounter with the resurrected Messiah and was moved to action.
Action moves us to develop three things in our lives.
1. Allegiance to King Jesus and His people
James 1:1 (CSB) says, “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ: To the twelve tribes dispersed abroad. Greetings.”
He makes his allegiance clear from the beginning. He serves Jesus and is committed to His Church. When James went from doubter to defender it was because he recognized the power of Jesus.
James also recognized how God has given us power through the Holy Spirit for the purpose of loving and serving people. Jesus won our hearts by going to the cross and wants our allegiance.
Part of being loyal to Jesus is being loyal to His mission of saving the lost and welcoming all people to His family.
2. Commitment to calling
According to Acts 15:13-21, James was faithful to God’s calling to make one family of many nations.
He called on Jewish Christians to welcome Gentiles into the Church. He could see the narrative of Scripture, from the beginning, that showed God’s desire to form a family. If you don’t know God’s story, you’ll ask God to fit into your story.
Remember His story and find your place in it. Don’t confuse your calling for your career. Your calling is to be a missionary for Jesus. Your career is simply a way for you to live out your calling. Don’t seek out higher position, seek to be a servant like Jesus.
3. Tenacity of faith
“Blessed is the one who endures trials, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12 , CSB).
To have tenacity means to be firm and steadfast. As we walk with Jesus and put our faith to action, He builds our endurance. And from endurance we will receive joy.
There’s something beautiful that happens in our struggles that transforms us. The more we become like Christ, the happier we’ll be, because Jesus was the happiest man who ever lived.
No outside circumstance can determine our joy. We have an internal tenacity and joy that comes from Him and cannot be shaken.
Just as the resurrected Messiah moved James to act, He also moves us to act. Place your ultimate allegiance in King Jesus and His people, accept His calling on your life, and allow Him to build your tenacity as He forms you into His image.
It happened to James, and it can happen to us.
Derwin is the co-founding and lead pastor of Transformation Church in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. He is a former NFL player and author of several books, including his most recent, How To Heal Our Racial Divide: What the Bible Says, and the First Christians Knew, about Racial Reconciliation. Learn more at DerwinLGray.com.