Can one seriously approach the Epistle of James and not take some lumps? Inevitably there is a place, or places, in our Christian walk that needs improvement, and our Lord’s own brother is the pastor/writer who is going to challenge us to address those places. Is it your tongue? Your anger? Your prayer life? Do your works match your confession? Do you exercise wisdom? To this list, and the many other issues James addresses, I confess that I am guilty of failing to do all that is required for victorious Christian living. Because of that, I find myself constantly returning to this well. As James teaches us, the Word is a mirror. And if true of the Word in general, it is especially true of his epistle in particular.
Professor Donald R. Sunukjian’s most recent book, “Invitation to James”, is a series of reformatted sermons that he preached on the Epistle of James to a local church. The book is divided into 14 topics where Professor Sunukjian offers very practical, applicable guidance to this already very practical, applicable letter. The prose is easy to follow, easy to digest, as one would expect from a collection of sermons.
The formatting of each sermon roughly follows the same outline: 1) Anecdotal story for introduction 2) Theme summary including primary text 3) Anecdotal stories for application 4) Supporting texts from elsewhere in Scripture 5) Closing. I say that to ensure that the reader understands what this book is, and what it isn’t. That is to say, it is very “devotional” and less didactic. This book is not a commentary on James, but rather a pastoral guide through James but with a twist: it appears to be intended to help other preachers learn how to effectively preach through James. An easy recommendation from me, partly because of my affection for the letter and partly because of Professor Sunukjian’s treatment of the text.
With that understanding, the book is helpful for two groups: those looking to understand the themes of James and apply them to their life, as well as the Bible teacher struggling to outline James in a way that is more pastoral than academic.