April 16, 2012

Book of James: Introduction

Tonight was the first night of our couple's Bible study on the book of James.  The study is called James: Pearls of Wisdom by Jeff Cavins.  Each week we read and answer questions before class, watch a video of Jeff Cavins lecturing, and then have a discussion with our small group.

Jeff Cavins said the reason why this study is called "Pearls for Wise Living" is because James was a pastor of a large church in Jerusalem, and he had a very popular teaching style where he sat with disciples and moved very quickly from one topic to another. This style of teaching was thought of as "stringing pearls." At first glance it seems like there are many different pieces of wisdom in there, but when you look at it as a whole, it's really one big masterpiece showing how you should live your life, in the same way that pearls are strung together to make a beautiful necklace. 

Here is a little background information on this book:
  • He taught at a time when people were very hostile to Jesus Christ because Caesar Augustus was proclaiming himself as God
  • Many people thought that the 10 commandments were something that they should strive towards as an "ideal," but James taught that it was expected
  • His book follows the Sermon on the Mount, and he was trying to tell people that it IS possible to live that way, and it's not just an ideal to strive for.
  •  He taught people who were young in their faith.

This week was just an introductory session, and it started out with the very first paragraph in the Catechism:

"God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him, with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time has come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life."

He said that we have two ideas of life: an ideal life and a real life. The ideal life is something predictable and easy, where our needs are all met and we feel affirmed and do things that use our talents. Yet some days we wake up and real life hits us in the head, leaving us feeling like we're "putting up" with things in our lives. As mentioned in the Catechism quote, God has a plan of sheer goodness for us, and that plan is intended to help us in the midst of our real vs. ideal lives. Knowing that, we should be able to transform the things we don't like in our lives into God's likeness.

The overall study is going to help us answer questions such as how do we make our whole entire life meaningful?  How do we move away from feeling like we're just "putting up with" things in life? We are going to be covering topics like tough times, relationships, patience, speech, love, and more. I think this is going to be an awesome study and I am really excited for all of the pearls of wisdom we will gain from it! :) 

We have Bible quotes (or pearls of wisdom) to memorize each week, and this week we'll be memorizing James 1:2-3:

"Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

Next week will be all about facing trials and temptations. 

* All content in this post is stuff I learned from Jeff's video.



  1. Awesome! I can't wait to hear more!!! I didn't know that James was teaching the younger generation. That makes it especially perfect for us! Great overview...thanks!