|Christians must always be ready to accept persecution for their beliefs|
Guardian Lifestyles Reporter
Published: Jul 26, 2012
As a true follower of Christ, believers must always be ready to accept persecution for the sake of their beliefs. There is no room for doubt or half-hearted work and Christians who truly want to follow Christ must first understand that it is only through service and sacrifice that they will find a greater purpose in their spiritual walk. These are the things that are exemplified by the life of the Apostle James, son of Zebedee (also known as James the Greater).
Of all the apostles — Peter, Philip, Matthew, Andrew, James the Greater, James the Lesser, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Jude (Thaddeus), Simon and Judas Iscariot (replaced by Matthias) — who followed Christ closely throughout His ministry and promised their lives and devotions to His cause, James was the one who was first in proving this dedication as he was the first of them all to be slain for his beliefs. This sacrificial end to his life and ministry are things Christians can learn from and emulate in their own lives according to Bishop John N. Humes, overseer of the Church of God.
“James is a remarkable apostle. They all did well in what they were called to do, but James particularly stands out among them because he was the first to die for the cause of Jesus,” said Bishop Humes. “He was killed by Herod when he and Peter were imprisoned as it was noted in Acts 12. The executioners wanted to kill Peter the next day but his execution happened after Easter. So it is a wonderous thing that James went ahead of his brothers in the Lord ... even Peter to show how much he believed in Jesus’ teachings and the promises found in the Word.”
James is also noted for being a very passionate and strong-willed disciple as he and his brother, John were called the sons of thunder by Jesus, said the minister. This showed that he was really devoted to the word and committed to serving the Lord and ensuring that others who wanted to follow Christ took it seriously too.
“Another thing Christians can learn from James is how to be focused fully on serving God. He was not mediocre or half-stepping in his worship and devotion to spreading the good news,” said Bishop Humes. “If more Christians were like James and so into what they were doing they would put it all on the line for God — then we all would be in a better place. The church is not as effective as it could be because too many people are not going all out and committing to their belief like they should.”
Unless believers are willing to lose something for the sake of their Christian faith they are not ready be a true believer. They must have the strength to sacrifice what is necessary for the truth like the Apostle James did said Canon Basil Tynes.
“The Apostle James was a son of Zebedee and he was a part of Jesus’ inner circle and was privy to alot of the personal conversations and actions of Jesus during His ministry. He was among the first called by Jesus to be a disciple and he took the honor he was given seriously,” said the priest.
But one of the most well-known aspects of James’ life was his death. He was the first of the apostles to be tested in his faith to the extent that he lost his life. There is nothing that says he faltered or regreted doing the work Jesus left. And more Christians today should aim to have such a spirit said Canon Tynes.
“James is also known to be so dedicated in his faith in Christ that he and his brother John got their mother to go to Jesus to get the Lord to promise to place them by his left and right hand in the kingdom of Heaven,” he said.
“Jesus asked them if they would be willing to drink the cup of suffering as he would have to and they said they would. But he also told them he was not the one to promise such a thing and if they truly wanted to be great in heaven they must be servants and slaves on the earth.”
As a result of James’ fiery and passionate nature there are several things Christians today can learn said the Anglican priest. He said the Christian walk is not about prestige and honor, but about sacrifice, service, suffering, submission and stickability. Despite his nature, he said James demonstrated those traits. He also said that the quest of the Christian is not one of power, prestige and position, but one of dedication and persistence, and that James also teaches how important it is to stay close to Jesus and glean as much as one can from Him.
“But the greatest lesson of all believers can learn from the apostles is that your Christianity should cost you something. If it doesn’t, then you need to ask yourself if you are truly a Christian. Standing up for the truth should always cost you something, and today it may not be death but it should be some sacrifice involved,” said Canon Tynes.
Father Alain Laverne, priest at Our Lady’s Catholic Church said having a resilient and passionate spirit is what believers can learn the most from James.
“This apostle was strong, fiery and consistent in his service to Christ. Despite his temper and sometimes overly-excited personality he was faithful and true to Jesus to the end. If there is anything the Christian can learn from James, it is to stand and resist whatever ills and dangers come your way because of your belief. Today it is important to be passionate and excited about the word like James, and be willing to take risks and put your life on the line. James was out of his comfort zone when he became a disciple. He sacrificed and believers today should still be doing the same,” he said.
Over the next four weeks The Nassau Guardian will engage a number of ministers of religion on the topic of the 12 disciples. They will examine each one and talk about who these men were and what the twenty-first century Christian can learn from their lives and legacy.