This week in chapel, Dr. Max Botner taught on James 1:19-21. As we consider our identity as followers of Christ, the question “Do I belong?” arises. This passage of James gives us an opportunity to think through and to consider the radical foundation of our counter-cultural community. We are the Diasporic community of people who should be leaning into God’s radical vision.

As James identifies and speaks the message of Jesus, he calls us to listen first and to speak second. Dr. Botner raises the question, “What are the reasons that we do not listen?” Often we find ourselves too busy, and we see people as obstacles to completing the tasks in front of us. Other times it’s difficult to listen when people are different than us. We tend to avoid our neighbors, the people who do not look like us, speak like us or act like us. If we are willing to listen and to acknowledge another’s plight, then we may be faced with something that needs to be changed within ourselves, and we will be called to take on the burdens of others. Our haste to listen is supposed to be fully matched by our hesitation to speak.

Listen to the full sermon below.


Dr. Max Botner is the new assistant professor of New Testament at GRTS, and he recently joined the seminary faculty this fall. Dr. Botner holds a master’s degree from Fuller Theological Seminary and a doctorate from the University of St. Andrews. He has worked as a postdoctoral researcher, lecturer and author. In addition, he worked closely to Professor N. T. Wright as a research assistant.

Outside the classroom, Dr. Botner enjoys sharing life with his wife and three children, reading and watching basketball.