1 Peter 1: 6-9, 13-16, 22
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.
I've moved on from James and am now starting 1 Peter, in which Peter is writing to those who have faced all kinds of hardships because of their Christian faith. While I cannot relate directly to persecution of this kind, I found a lot of comfort and insight in the first chapter.
I am appreciative of the fact that Peter recognizes how it feels to believe in a God whom we cannot see. I have struggled in the past (and sometimes present) with not feeling very close to God because He isn't physically there. Peter acknowledges this and states that even though we have not seen Him, we love Him and are filled with joy because we know that we are saved. The glorious joy we feel is a reassurance that He has saved us, no matter what kind of things come between our faith in moments of weakness.
Peter reminds us that we are called to be holy, no matter what trials and temptations come our way we are called to be like Jesus. It's easy to fall back into old patterns. Even Christians who have been following Christ their whole lives can get in a pattern of stagnation in their faith where they are complacent. Not reading their Bible because they believe they don't need to, not serving others because they are too focused on their own journey, the list could go on (and most of it applies to me at one point or another). The point is that we are not supposed to go back to those times of ignorance. If we have the right answer, why are we choosing to daily bubble in the wrong answer just because we are stubborn?
I love verse 22 where it says that once we have purified ourselves in obedience, that is where we can truly begin loving one another DEEPLY and from the heart. Love each other not as casual acquaintances, but as Christ loved us- a true, compassionate, unconditional love. Once we begin treating each other in that way, we can start to be an example of Christ's love through our service, and how we treat one another at our jobs and in our homes. We can let that love overflow into every aspect of our lives changing us from the inside out.