A Community of Justice (Part 1) – Gospel in Life

A Community of Justice (Part 1)

Tim Keller |  December 6, 2009

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  • Mercy & Justice
  • The Church (Unity, Fellowship, Leadership)
  • Christian Living and Obedience
James 2:1-17
RS 317-03


The book of James is a practical book. James, unlike Paul, doesn’t so much break the gospel apart to show you what it is; James assumes the gospel and shows you what your life will look like if you believe it.

Today, we’re going to see 1) what kind of community you ought to be, 2) why you ought to be it, and 3) how we can become that kind of community.

Understanding James 2:1–17

James’ book gives us a clear picture of what a perfect community looks like, how vital it is, and how we can create it by following the gospel’s teachings. It warns against preferring some over others and treating the poor unfairly, reminding us that God has chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and to inherit his kingdom. It highlights the need to love our neighbors, the wrongness of favoritism, and the importance of showing our faith through our actions, as faith without actions is dead.

1. The kind of community we’re meant to be

As Christians, we are called to create a community that is filled with justice and mercy, with no place for favoritism or discrimination. The early church, by making leaders out of those who were marginalized, shows us that we need to come up with creative ways to ensure fairness. Mercy should go beyond just being kind and forgiving; it should also address people’s physical and material needs. Churches should actively help with these needs, reflecting God’s nature, the spiritual reality and salvation.

2. Why we should strive to be this kind of community

The core idea of treating everyone equally comes from the belief that every person, since they’re made in God’s image, has inherent worth and dignity. This idea is the basis of the commandment against murder and the concept of human rights for all, an idea Christians in the Middle Ages helped establish. The role Christians played in starting hospitals and caring for those who were marginalized is discussed, as well as the worry about what could happen to moral values if society rejects Christianity, and the ongoing responsibility of the Christian community to model compassion and justice.

3. How we can build this kind of community

When we understand what it means to be a Christian, we can create a community that is rooted in justice and mercy, that goes beyond worldly categories and achievements. There’s a paradox in being humble while knowing we have a high position in Christ, and it’s important to avoid a superior attitude towards poverty, instead connecting faith with actions. The ultimate goal for churches is to mirror justice and mercy, uphold Christian values, and reflect God’s image.



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