“Let the believer who is lowly boast in being raised up, and the rich in being brought low, because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers in the field; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. It is the same way with the rich; in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away.”
~James 1:9-11 (NRSV).
This is a marvellous hope for the ordinary man or woman in this life, battling against the successes of the less moral ‘rich’ person. The morality-life, then, seems to elude all good-doers and their foregoing of just reward... until at last the truth is finally revealed.
And this, I guess, is what the many hope for: justice.
The Broader Message – One Not To Miss
The lowly believer, perhaps the one not materially rich or especially blessed, is granted passage—per James—to sow into a better reality; that of identity.
The overall goal of the Christian life, so far as the destiny of maturity in the Lord is concerned, is to reach the status of peace within the self to the availing stream of joy resplendent of hope and the strength of meandering surrender, to God, in faith.
This is an opportunity not granted the rich and the especially successful, for they frankly do not ‘get’ the trials common to life on the ‘lowly’ stage; they float on a winsomely fake cloud headed for the abyss.
Those Rich and ‘Well-Off’ are Having ‘Their’ Time Now
The rich and successful who do not continually sow like poor and lowly people are being slowly scorched in the field of their busyness and quite comparatively foolish successes, certainly as compared with the riches of those eternal things that will last a lifetime and beyond.
Jesus says in commendation of this—of those getting their just desserts now:
“Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.”
~Matthew 6:2b (NRSV).
And yet, the lowly are “being raised up”. They, therefore, can afford to (quietly) boast, which is probably best put as a humble though assured confidence that—as we speak—they’re being raised up... it’s otherwise a thing that is certainly happening.
The Construction of Viable Identity
The viable identity, which we’ve said is the very path of the believer, is about the assuredness of peace. This is a peace beyond the making of this world i.e. via material gain or otherwise ‘success’ which cannot provide such peace.
Until we reach that continual ‘more-or-less’ flow of peace our practical identities are not fixed; for it’s in the fixed identity that the soul finds its acceptable peace.
The very apex of identity is this: it is serving without fear, selflessly, and finding the serenity of rest in, and of, our deeds for God.
An identity that’s hence “workable” is then serviceable; serving us as we venture with our endeavours in the world. Building and construction are the ideal metaphors, then, because we’re constructing our identities, commissioning them for work, and then we’re maintaining them. We’re otherwise shading them—and ourselves—from that scorching sun.
The lowly have this to boast in: theirs is an iron-clad fixed identity in the righteousness of faith, to work for God who is raising them, even today!
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.