If you have ever been to a Billy Graham Crusade or a Festival with the Luis Palau team, then you have probably experienced the thrill of seeing dozens of people respond to the “altar call”, the invitation for people to walk down to the front, indicating that they want to give their life to the Lord Jesus. It might be the first time that they have heard the Gospel message or it might be an “hour of decision” when the Holy Spirit is drawing them to repent and come back to the faith that they have already professed in the past. These decisive events are sometimes the culmination of a serious search for truth, but often they are a spontaneous response to the convicting message from God’s Word which they have just heard.
In some ways James gave an “altar call” right in the middle of his letter. He knew that there were people in those new churches that professed to have faith, but, in fact, there was no indication that their lives had been changed. Because there was bickering and jealousy, ambivalence about loyalties, and mixed motives when they prayed, there was clearly a serious problem. In the face of these difficulties, he challenged them to consider their need to humble themselves before God and to repent of their sinful ways. That always seems to be the best place to start, doesn’t it? Simply coming to God so that He can show you Who He is and to allow Him to cleanse you and lift you up by His grace will always transform your attitudes and your actions. It is a promise that He made to everyone who believed in Him.
Whether your “altar” is in a public place, in the privacy of your own home or somewhere else, the invitation remains open to everyone. The Lord in His great love beckons all of us to come humbly into His presence, choosing to seek His will over our own desires. He longs for you and me to know that there is nothing else that can fill the emptiness of our hearts like He can.