Do you remember seeing the movie “Monuments Men”? It is a riveting story of 7 soldiers who were carefully chosen because of their knowledge and skills to find the artistic treasures that had been stolen and hidden in Germany and in Russia during World War II. The challenge seemed almost impossible. The risk of losing their lives was very real. So what made them eager to follow the commander’s instructions? Where did their enthusiasm and dedication come from? Why were they willing to do whatever he asked them to do and to keep on going wherever he sent them? Perhaps two of the most obvious reasons are they believed without question in their mission to preserve the heritage of Western civilization as portrayed through art and sculpture and they also trusted those who were in charge. They were willing to believe that their plans would eventually mean success.
While James was certainly not a commander, he was in a position of leadership in the early church. Historians recorded that his name became “James the Just” and from that we assume he was also dedicated and trustworthy. In some ways he knew more about his half-brother, Jesus, than anyone else. So, as a “bond servant” or a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, he wrote out a strategic plan to help the believers know more about the way to experience the victory Jesus had promised to all those who would put their faith in Him. To avoid certain pitfalls with their words and to understand the kind of wisdom God gives were important concepts James knew would help them discover the joy that could be theirs – in Christ. He knew they would benefit greatly in their life challenges if they had some very specific admonitions from someone whom they admired.
Could it be those two characteristics of total commitment and implicit trust will make a huge difference in any situation where following directions or instructions or even commands is involved? No doubt they can change reticence and resistance to eagerness and enthusiasm. By the way, who is your commander these days?