We're first introduced to James in Matthew 4:21. James and his brother John are fishing with their dad in the family business. Jesus approaches and tells the brothers to "Come, follow me." They do and their lives will never be the same again.
Today I read Acts 12. Verses 1-2 says:
It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.
I'm certain I've read this passage many times before, but today it truly sunk in.
James was killed because he was a follower of Christ.
Living in the United States, I have never faced persecution the way some Christians around the world have. Yes, the US is becoming increasingly hostile against Christians to the point of discrimination, but as of yet, mostly we aren't fearful of losing our lives because we call ourselves a Christian.
James, however, did just that. He hadn't committed a crime. He hadn't done anything deserving of death. He simply put his trust and faith in the One called Jesus, the Christ, and everyone knew it.
Could James have saved his life? Sure. Maybe if he'd been a 'closet Christian' he wouldn't have been killed. You know the type. Their co-workers don't know they're a Christian. They don't talk about church or the Bible to anyone they aren't sure share the same beliefs. They live their faith out in their own mind and that's it.
James was NOT a closet Christian! I don't want to be either. I want the world to know I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He came to earth as a baby (which is why we celebrate Christmas). I believe He died on a cross and rose from the dead on the third day. And I firmly believe He is seated at this very moment at the right hand of Almighty God, waiting for His Church to join Him in eternal life!
Can't wait to give him a hug!