I think my off the cuff comment about score brownie points with the Big Guy by finding the Shepherd”s lost lambs for him” model of salvation was actually needlessly unfair to poor James.
Firstly, James is not talking about conversion of outsiders here. That’s clearly Paul’s work. Paul’s good at it. James — at least here — is talking about anyone among you wanders from the truth — in other words — folks who have been a part of this community of faith — at least in the past.
It seems to me, after thinking a bit more about it, that James is either talking about members of the community who have — metaphorically — wandered form the truth (i.e., still attend meeting/church but are not involved in practices or beliefs that are not consistent with the gospel) or he is talking about folks who have wandered literally — that is to say — left.
In other words this is about community discipline.
Imagine a meeting or church, and after that meeting or church takes a hardline stand on something or other — the war in Iraq, or peace tax initiatives, or same-sex marriages, or some such matter — a person becomes upset enough to leave. Those who stay can have one of two responses.
Good riddance! Or at least more kindly, well everyone has to choose their path for themselves.
But the other option is to go to the person, hear their concerns, and encourage them to return and add their voice to the assembly again.
Which path would you choose?