Better Together
Rubel Shelly   -  

Rubel Shelly, teacher

Text for This Study: James 5:12-20

1. At the close of a letter to scattered and frightened Christians, James reminds his readers to take care of one another. Explain how each of the following contributes to the church’s life as a community: prayer (vs.13a,17-18), celebration (v.13), accountability (vs.14-15,19-20).

2. The video suggests that v.12 serves better as an introduction to vs.13-20 than as a summary or conclusion to the earlier part of the chapter. Do you see why that was suggested? Do you agree or disagree?

3. Look back over the five chapters of this epistle to notice how prayer is a constant theme. What sorts of things are made the concerns of prayer in this letter? What subjects occur to you that we should add to prayers for our time and place?

4. Written as a call to faithfulness, James nevertheless grants that sometimes a brother or sister will “wander from the truth” and will need someone to “bring that person back” (v.19). Can you think of anyone in that situation who needs you to pray for him or her? Contact? Try to bring back to Christ?

5. What has the past year taught you about the need for Christian community? How has it shown you that we really are “better together” than in isolation?

In his best-selling Being Mortal, Dr. Atul Gawande tells the story of Bill Thomas. Thomas started working as the medical director for Chase Memorial Nursing Home in New Berlin, New York, when he was only 31 and had no meaningful experience in eldercare. He was horrified by “The Three Plagues” of life in a nursing home: boredom, loneliness, and helplessness. He came up with the idea of bringing plants, children, and pets into the nursing home. Specifically, he wanted to bring in two dogs, four cats, and 100 parakeets! Over protest, he did it. Dr. Gawande writes: “Researchers studied the effects of this program over two years, comparing a variety of measures for Chase’s residents with those of residents at another nursing home nearby. Their study found that the number of prescriptions required per resident fell to half that of the control nursing home. Psychotropic drugs for agitation, like Haldol, decreased in particular. The total drug costs fell to just 38 percent of the comparison facility. Deaths fell 15 percent.” [Being Mortal (New York: Metropolitan Books), p.123.] What does this tell you about the fundamental need we human beings have to have meaningful social connections with one another?

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