“Hi. I’m Jon. I’m one of the chaplains.”
I say that often. I knock and walk into a hospital room and give my name and give my role.
I could say lots of other things. I could give my resume, my qualifications for being in the room. I could explain the number of other patients that I’ve helped, the role I’ve played in other people’s lives. I could say lots of things.
But all of those other words would get in the way of getting to business.
In those hospital moments, my credibility isn’t based on anything I’ve done. It’s based on who I represent: the hospital and God.
James starts his letter, the only one passed on to us, with a simple statement of his name and his role: Servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.
He could have said much more. He could have explained that he grew up hearing Jesus but not really paying attention to him. He could have talked about his role in the early church, the significance of his recommendation to the early church, recorded in Acts 15, that they not stand in the way of God’s outreach to the gentiles
He could have built his credibility by what he had done and is doing. Instead, his credibility comes from who he serves.
And he’s specific about that. God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
His brother with all his titles. His human name, his fulfillment of prophecy name. And his all-powerful role name.
I’m teaching a course which includes talking about walking into hospital rooms, about standing in front of people, kneeling beside people, walking through horror and boredom with people. And there are lots of ways that we want to describe ourselves, build our credentials, establish our credibility. But at the very least, and at the very most, the common ground and common calling we must return to is this: servants of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
If it was good enough for the one whose blessing meant that the Gospel came to us, then it’s good enough for us.