What church often lacks today


James 5:16 (ESV): 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.


There are several themes that are interwoven throughout this letter including: suffering or times of testing, the rich and the poor, the need for wisdom, speech and its source – the heart, and faith that works.

While the rich addressed at beginning of the letter are fellow believers, in James 5 the rich appear to be wicked people who do not fear God and take advantage of other people.

God’s people are exhorted to be patient and steadfast in difficulty. Then, those who are suffering and sick are told to pray. Indeed, the sick are to come before the church to be anointed by the elders of the church. Any sins should be confessed.


In our individualistic Western society, this instruction to confess our sins to one another and pray together seems a bit foreign. Unfortunately, some local church cultures are such that people do not trust the community to handle private, confidential matters appropriately.

Indeed, I was told once by a church leader that when their church asked for testimonies people were reluctant to share for fear of what others might say. Often, such testimony times were seen as “pre-planned events” in which the leader had selected some people to share already.

We see a very different church culture in the first century. And, scriptures such as James 5:16 would suggest that God’s desire is different also.

We would not suggest that everyone should indiscriminately share intimate details of their spiritual life in the church. Yet our scripture does strongly imply that within the church people should be connected to smaller groups in which they can be free to share without fear, receive heartfelt prayer for their needs, and be held accountable in their walk with God.


Heavenly Father, help us to develop relationships with a few other believers with whom we can laugh, love, and lift each other spiritually. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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