On Sundays, we are now a couple of weeks into a series on the book of James. This book is one of the letters in the New Testament, and it is called James because it says at the start it is written by ‘James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ’ (1:1). We are not totally certain, but it seems pretty likely this is James (or as he is called in Hebrew, Jacob) the brother of Jesus, who became the head of the church in Jerusalem some years after Jesus’ death and resurrection. One of the factors this fits with is the fact that this letter echoes, and seems to reflect on, a lot of Jesus’ teachings, especially from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7, which we are hearing in church alongside the letter of James).
We have called our series in James ‘The Mirror’ because, in verses 22-25 of chapter 1, James compares the word of God to a mirror. Like a mirror, James constantly shows us what we are really like, and calls us to look honestly at ourselves. This can be an unpleasant business – I find regularly that looking in the mirror shows me things I’d rather not see! And yet at the same time, an honest look in the mirror can give me a dose of reality, and (at least in some measure) be the first step in improvement. As Michael Jackson said in his song Man in the Mirror, ‘take a look at yourself and then make a change’.
Already we have had the book of James do that for us – hold the mirror up and call us to change. Perhaps with some trembling, but also with anticipation, we look forward to that continuing. And as we look at James, we are reminded again that it is actually God who is holding the mirror up to us, and it is God who helps us to make a change.