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From Unbelief to Pillar

When you think of a pillar, what’s your first thought? Strong? Holding up something? Foundational? Been there a long time?

All of these are accurate pictures of a pillar. Various shapes and types of pillars are used in buildings. Now, think of a person as a pillar. One who holds up something. Again, we see lots of different things and ways people are pillars.

What about you? What are you holding up? What do you support? Are you like everyone else you know? Or an individual God has shaped to hold up His values and truth, different from any other Christ-follower to bring His glory to your part of the world?

When we read the book of James in the Bible, we probably think of the person who is believed to be the author, to be a pillar in the church all his life. But this is not the case. Let’s take a look at James’ life. It can encourage us even if we think we aren’t enough to be used by God as His pillar!

James was one of Jesus’ half brothers, because God was Jesus’ father and Joseph was James’, both born to Mary. Consider what that might have been like for James: perfect son, mom’s favorite, never sinned, claimed to be the Messiah? Really?

Jesus’ own siblings didn’t believe Him. We see this in John 7:1-5:

After this, Jesus traveled in Galilee, since he did not want to travel in Judea because the Jews were trying to kill him. The Jewish Festival of Shelters was near. So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea so your disciples can see your works that you are doing. For no one does anything in secret while he’s seeking public recognition. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” (For not even his brothers believed in him.)

So, how does James move from unbelief to faith? Jesus was so specific, after His resurrection, to go directly to his brother, as seen in 1 Corinthians 15:7:

Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.

James is not lumped into all the other apostles, but pointed out by Paul, writer of Corinthians, to show us James came to believe what Jesus said. Paul also now calls him a “pillar” in Galatians 2:9:

When James, Cephas, and John — those recognized as pillars — acknowledged the grace that had been given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to me

Now as a pillar of the church, Paul is introduced and welcomed into the church as a newcomer by James, Peter (Cephas) and John. What a life change James must have had after Jesus appeared to him as the resurrected Christ. (And remember, Paul, himself, had quite a life change from persecutor of Christians to another pillar of the faith!)

As a result, we have the book of James, with such powerful and practical wisdom to guide us through life’s ups and downs. How to navigate crisis well and serve others well.

It’s one of my favorite books in scripture. I even took up Beth Moore’s challenge to memorize this book when I did her study on James: Mercy Triumphs.

Maybe you will not head up a church, but, no matter who and what you first believed Jesus to be, if you know Him NOW as Savior, Messiah, and Lord of your life, He desires for you, and me, to be a pillar of the faith through our local church and out in the world.

How are you holding up the faith today? Ask God how He desires for you to grow in Him as you grow into a strong pillar for His Kingdom and His glory!

Banner photo by Lee Jeffs on Unsplash

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