Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
I have been quoting the TNIV of late, hoping I will get familar with it. I favor its efforts to balance gender enough to go through the effort. Neither it nor the ESV has the punch of the KJV on this one, though.
Faith, being alone is just a killer statement.
James is talking about brothers and sisters who are truly destitute, and who are turned away by their Christian family. They are not just turned away, though. They are turned away with a smile and a blessing, and they are turned away by people in good standing with the church. People just like me.
This verse frightens me. I don't know whether the Lord has watched me turn anyone away or not, but I know I am not blazing any trails in cheerful giving. I wonder how much I need to pray for His mercy toward my lack of mercy.
I don't think it's mandatory to put a "Familyhood Church" spin on everything I touch, but I am going to do it here.
The main thing I note about this verse is that brothers and sisters tend not to go to each other with their needs. They go to "the church", meaning the hierarchical organization. We are insulated from each other by that organization. It would bless me beyond telling to know that I could really help a brother, but instead the church wants to funnel all that money. We want our IRS tax discounts, too, so we are a part of the problem.
We need a little more raw exposure to each other.
There's a shocking feeling that comes when you suddenly realize that the person in front of you needs help, and won't get it if you don't give it. You are, through no fault of your own, responsible for someone. I think we need to be hit with that more often, and I think it will only happen if we ratchet down the responsibilities of the pastor and elders. We need to be confronted with our responsibility for each other - and not "accountability" either! We're only too willing to help our brothers see their flaws. No. We need to see our brothers' needs, and see that we are their only help.
Why don't we do this?
Because it's really, really hard. I've been there and done that, and the decisions you make have real consequence. It's much easier to let a pastor take the heat.
But if we do, if we get close enough to each other to really know each others' needs, and really help each other, maybe our faith won't die of loneliness.