Recently, we had some work done on Patty’s car. Not only did she need two new tires but also her alignment was out of whack. This caused a wobbling when she was braking and gave the car a bit of “uneasiness” in the steering wheel. When a car is out of alignment, the tires are not perpendicular to the ground. This causes a car to (typically) “pull” to one side or another and makes your tires wear unevenly.
In our Christian lives, we can also find ourselves getting “out of alignment”. The problem is this: we often don’t see our alignment problem any more than a car knows it’s out of alignment. It takes an owner knowing a car is out of alignment before the problem can be fixed. In a very similar way, it takes a source outside of us to identify our own alignment problems.
This is the concept James speaks of in his final words in his letter:
19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
James is being nice in this passage. James ends his letter with a different formula than what he’s been using. Until now, James has used this opening expression (“brothers…”) as a way of saying “align yourselves with the truth of the Gospel” but now he’s using it to challenge believers to help pull back others whose alignment is off. Too often our attitude resembles Cain. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9). Guess what. You are. And so am I.
I have to admit, I get frustrated when someone bemoans a dear friend [of theirs] leaving their faith and going “astray” while they feel powerless. Oftentimes these people will ask me, “What should I do?” Why do I get frustrated? Because if they truly care about this person, why would they be asking about what to do? Go get them! Don’t let them leave without someone reaching out to them and trying to help them. We must remember that their decision to deny their faith by their choices is THEIR choice (and not ours) but they shouldn’t leave without us saying SOMETHING. Yes?
Why would we not take action? Are we afraid someone will accuse us of “judging” them? I would much rather love someone and be accused of “judging” him or her than to let him or her walk away without a word. What is more important: my reputation or their relationship with the Lord?
Alignment problems in our Christian walk could be the theme of James. We must keep ourselves and help keep our brothers and sisters in alignment with the Lord and His Word. The world is watching and judging Christ by our actions.