• Service times

    Services times are:

    Saturday night 7:30 pm for our Chinese/English service. (Pastor Daniel Choi.)

    Sunday 10 am for our English language service (Senior Pastor Jeff Whittaker).

    Sunday 11:30 am for our Chinese (Mandarin) language service. (Pastor Daniel Choi.)

  • Contact details…

    Physical and postal address:
    4 Inverary Avenue,
    Epsom,
    Auckland 1023,
    NEW ZEALAND.

    Email:
    epsombaptist@gmail.com

    Telephone:
    (0064 9) 6306010

    Contacts:
    Rev. Jeff Whittaker
    Pastor Daniel Choi

  • Church Officers…

    Church Treasurer: Ann Guan

    Church Secretary: Margaret Whittaker

    Church Deacons: Anne Bartley, Ian de Stigter, Kristy Choi, Willa Hui, Donglan Zhang and Alfred Zhou.

Prayer, confession, and healing in James…

In my previous blog on the book of James, I noted that I believe James to belong to the genre of wisdom literature. Further, I suggested that the book of James concentrates on one issue: How rich and poor can live together in the body of Christ.

Now, at the end of James chapter 5 is some teaching on healing. Verses 13 – 20  appear to constitute a stand alone section, with straightforward instruction on prayer, confession and anointing for healing. However, I wonder if we too easily miss the wider context, and how it may colour what this section is actually about.

anointing of the sick 1

All through the book, James has been exhorting the poor to have faith and to be patient as God works out responses to their cries for help. Similarly, James is full of warnings to the rich about the transience of their wealth and how they are to be upright and generous with their riches. And at several points James warns about loose speech, including the incongruity of believers cursing others. Could these others be fellow believers? Could the rich be struggling with the temptation to malign their poorer fellow believers whom they regard as grasping and envious? Could the poor be struggling with the temptation to malign their richer fellow believers whom they regard as hard-hearted and stingy? Therefore, could it be that James is instructing rich and poor to get together, and confess their economic struggles to one another?

The healing being talked about involves the whole church. Members are confessing their sins, including issues to do with money, to one another. The elders are involved, praying for the sick and anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. I believe that we can read these verses as teaching that genuine healing may include the church dealing with issues of economic inequality between members. If you’re tempted to dismiss such a reading of this text, then reading either ‘The Spirit Level’ or ‘The Price of Inequality’ may be salutary.

Reading James 5: 13 – 20 in this way is challenging. It’s even more challenging for us in the West, when we consider that some of our brothers and sisters in the majority really do need our economic help.

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