Monday, January 13, 2014

Who's on top?

I was a terrible big brother. I picked on my sister and terrorized my little brother. I'd sit on the stairs in our house and not let my sister to the top of the stairs unless she gave me the "password." But there wasn't one. If she tried to get by, I'd push her down. I'm amazed she still speaks to me.

I have to keep up the tough guy act with my younger brother to this day otherwise he'll take revenge on me—well deserved revenge. I was alway much bigger than him but never mature enough to not pick on him. I fear that someday I will get a man's sized serving of what I used to dish out to him when we were growing up. We bullies have to sleep with one eye open.

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings. Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:1-4 ESV)

James grew up the kid brother of Jesus in a carpenter's house. But Jesus was not a bully like I was. On one hand, He was probably the big brother anyone could have. On the other hand, He never did anything wrong. I wonder how that was?

I didn't have a "good" brother or sister, but I wonder if I did, would I hold him or her in contempt? Did Mary say to James, "Jesus never has to be asked four times to take out the garbage!" Did Jesus make everybody else in the family look bad? Was there resentment like there was between the sons of Isaac–Jacob and Esau–or the sons of Jacob who sold their brother Joseph into slavery?

John 7 gives us a record of some kind of rift between Jesus and His brothers. They advised Him to go to Jerusalem to make Himself known. "Do some miracles," they said. But Jesus knew that there was a time, a place, and a purpose for that kind of exposure.

Jesus went to Jerusalem to honor tradition and He kept a low profile.

James adopts a low profile, too. James, in his ministry life, has put every hint of sibling rivalry behind him. And he doesn't try to ride on Jesus' coat tails either. When James could assert himself as the guy who grew up under the same roof as Jesus, he chooses a different approach. He doesn't drop a name. James calls himself a servant.

I've had to make many amends in my family. The most productive way to do this is to follow James' example and see myself as the one on the bottom rather than the one on top.

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