Last week Heather and I visited St David’s cathedral in Pembrokeshire. The cathedral, by cathedral standards, was fairly small and simple. There were some shadows on the walls and pillars where once in medieval times it had been a brightly painted place but these were now barely visible. Although now a focal point for Welsh culture, it was an understated building with a feeling of humility. Immediately next to the Cathedral were the remains of a building that by its size far outstripped the cathedral. The palace was built by Bishop Henry De Gower as his personal home, a vastly rich man, chancellor for the kingdom. The Bishops of St David’s were Lord Marchers. “Lord Marchers were trusted allies of the English monarch and in return for their military role they were given extraordinary powers in their regions, acting as de-facto rulers. The Bishop had the right to hold weekly markets and annual fairs on his estates. Tolls from these markets and fairs were a major source of income.” (Britain Express) It reminded me of King Solomon who built the first temple at Jerusalem but built himself a far bigger palace.
As one walked around the cathedral there were ornate tombs, most seemed to be the burial place for a past bishop. But on one wall there was a plaque to commemorate the faithful life and service of a vast number of unnamed priests many not recorded and forgotten. I found no commemoration of the thousands who have worshiped and served in humbler roles over the centuries like the man I saw outside, on his knees clearing soil and grass from plaques laid in the grass while the rain poured down around him.
James brings a sharper reality to all Christians’ common status in Christ. First, we should hold a humble view of ourselves regarding who we are and our importance considered in the light of God’s future, even if we live to an old age, have great wealth and are honoured by the world around. Our life will still be as short lived as a day lily. v10 If we as a Christian are regarded as powerless and impoverished by society we will be raised up by Christ. James makes clear that the person who perseveres will be given the crown of life by Jesus who loves him or her.
This passage is a challenge to us to see each other as Christ sees us. To value what Christ values and to not waste our time, effort and desires on those things that fade and die. It is a very clear statement of each Christian’s equality in the sight of God. Why then do we so often fall into the trap of valuing as the world values rather than valuing people for what they are in Christ?
Peter picks up the same theme, ‘Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.’ 1 Peter 5-6
Have we asked Christ to align our hearts and values with his?
Do we value each brother and sister in Christ alike?
Are we tempted to consider ourselves as of less or more value to God than another brother or sister in Christ?
Are we looking forward to the crown of life the Lord has promised those who love him?
Crown of life – Rev Milton Brunson Community Singers