Wednesday, June 23, 2010

June 23, 2010

"My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism." James 2:1

For a church fellowship to be healthy and transformational their must be an atmosphere of love and acceptance. In this first half of the second chapter, James makes the argument against showing prejudice.

Verse 1: Partiality contradicts faith in Jesus Christ as the Lord of glory.

God calls us to express His unconditional love to anyone who comes under the influence of our church. It doesn't mean that everything goes and we can't have standards, but we must welcome and include everyone He sends our way.

2. Verses 2-4: Partiality reveals a judging heart and behind it evil thinking.

Members of a healthy fellowship relate to each other and guests based on Scriptural principles and not on superficial personal preferences.

3. Verse 5: Partiality to the rich contradicts God's heart, because he has chosen many of the poor for himself.

This sounds like God prefers poor people over the rich. Isn't that hypocritical? I am not prepared to question the motives of a Holy and omniscient God. But the fact is poor people are generally more receptive to the Gospel than rich people.

4. Verse 6a: Partiality dishonors people created in the image of God.

It is not for us to choose whom we will minister the grace of God. It is our calling to love whomever He leads into out fellowship. If we focus on the superficial we will be ineffective in developing the spiritual.

5. Verses 6b-7: Partiality to the rich backfires and becomes your downfall.

If you are preferring the wealthy because of what you think they can offer your church financially you will be building on the superficial rather than the spiritual and that always backfires.

6. Verse 9-11: Partiality makes you a transgressor of the law of liberty.

Anytime love is given with conditions there is bondage. Extending grace to everyone without regard to who they are or what they can offer creates an environment of unconditional love and freedom. People are free to be themselves without the feeling they have to measure up in order to be accepted.

7. Verse 13: Partiality is not mercy. But if you don't show mercy, you will perish.

Mercy means we believe the best of others and give them the benefit of the doubt. We treat others as we have been and want to be treated. Mercy means I offer the grace of God even to people I may have a prejudice against.

Favoritism and partiality are deadly for any organization, but especially so with a church where the love of God must operate. As human beings we will have favorites and we have have biases, but as Christians we cannot allow those human judgments to influence how we respond to those who come into our fellowship.

Love 'em or lose 'em.