This end of James focuses on prayer, healing and the importance of bringing back wandering Christians.
Verses 13-18 focuses on healing through prayer. People get confused with some of these verses and I’d love to give my interpretation. Some people believe verse 14 is an anointing oil being used for medicinal purposes but I believe it is actual oil that symbolizes consecration and should be practiced by the church today. In fact, we have done this with several people within our congregation. Verses 15-16 have been taken out of context with some people when they assume this is the reason why someone doesn’t heal every time which is very dangerous. Because it’s in Scripture, we see that there’s truth in it but we can’t assume every sickness is because of a personal sin and a lack of faith. Sometimes that could be the case and others it’s because it’s God’s will and living in a fallen world. What we do know is that like verses 17-18 says, we must always be praying for the suffering and sick. God still heals. God still does miracles.
Verses 19-20 are a great reminder for us of going after the wandering Christian. We all know someone who would fit this description so what’s holding you back from trying to bring them back? I read these verses a little over a year ago and was so convicted by them that I took 2 entire days to call and text people in my past student ministry, past church in Columbus, Ohio and even people I didn’t know at West campus, just trying to follow up and bring them back, doubling my work for those couple of weeks.
The portrait of a wanderer is painted with rebellion and danger. He roams around and never settles down. His relationships are momentary. He is lost, vaguely wondering if there’s something better, but caught in the not-so-merry-go-round of wandering. And wanderers can be daughters as often as they are sons.
Despite this bleak portrait, there’s still hope for a wanderer. No one is beyond the reach of God’s grace. When James writes, “if anyone among you wanders,” there are no disclaimers—and our excuses for not pursuing them fall flat. “She’s too far gone,” “His life is too complicated,” or “It’s too messy; I can’t get into that mix” are all wrong. This is about anyone.
So, I’m here to let you know. That’s what it says in verse 20 “LET HIM KNOW” God can use you to bring that person back.
Who do you need to go to? Will you go? Who specifically?
Does God’s Spirit bring a specific person to mind whom He wants you to approach? Perhaps it’s someone obvious—a child, a sibling, a close friend—to whom your heart immediately turns.
Go bring that person back. Don’t leave a tract in his mailbox. Don’t hope she drives by a billboard. Don’t sail a gospel blimp over his neighborhood. Rescue requires direct contact and a personal touch.
Going and finding a wanderer is messy business. Your heart will be heavy, your feelings may be hurt, and your toes could get stepped on. But are we selfless enough to risk our own comfort to rescue a wandering soul? God forgive us when we huddle in our holy enclave and don’t allow our hearts to be moved for people at risk.
If you were once a wanderer and have come home, someone was used by God to bring you back. It’s time to reciprocate that priceless gift. Ask God to enable you to reach out, then go get the wanderer!
By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor