You don’t have to be perfect to follow Jesus.
Have you ever wondered what it was like to live at the same time in history as Jesus? This December, let me invite you to consider the narrative of Christmas from the perspective of someone who grew up in the very same home as Jesus Christ. Let’s look at Christmas through the eyes of a brother.
James was the skeptical sibling of Jesus. I mean, how would you react if your sibling claimed to be God? As Jesus’ sibling, James found himself in this exact situation. I tend to think that James experienced quite a bit of skepticism about his big brother being God. I certainly would have. My two siblings are 12 and 16 years old than me, so I grew up in the shadows of my older siblings. And to be clear, neither of my siblings claimed to be God, but because they were always so far ahead of me in life, I couldn’t keep up with them. I wonder how sibling rivalry played out between James and Jesus?
Now, I just think about this for a minute. Everybody followed Jesus around. Jesus turned water into wine. Jesus walked on water. Jesus fed thousands. Jesus brought Lazarus back from the dead, Jesus predicted and accomplished his own resurrection from the dead.
Now, how do you live up to that? James was a late adopter to Christianity and didn’t place his faith in Jesus until after the resurrection. He was a straggler who eventually became a leader in the early Christian movement. James is known today as the dominant leader of the Jerusalem church; to use a familiar term, he was the senior pastor. James was the head of the first Jewish Church and even wrote a book of the New Testament.
The half-brother of Jesus who became the recognized leader in the Jerusalem church held that position until his martyrdom. However, despite his leadership and sacrifice, nobody writes Christmas carols about James. James could never live up to his brother’s perfection, and neither can we. The good news is we don’t have to be perfect to follow Jesus. This Christmas, remember that the church exists to be the perfect place for imperfect people. Some say the church is full of hypocrites, but the church is not full of hypocrites. There’s always room for more, just like James, the skeptical straggler turned senior pastor.
We all have our issues God is working out in our lives. So who do you know that’s a skeptic of Christianity like James was? Who do you know that’s close to you but far from God? This season is the perfect time to share the truth about Jesus.
The good news is we don’t have to be perfect to follow Jesus.