“My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, ‘You sit here in a good place, while you say to the poor man, ‘You stand over there,’ or ‘Sit down at my feet,’ have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” - James 2:1-4
We began this week in Proverbs 22 with the question of how we judge people. It seems to be a question that the Lord wants us to continue to wrestle with as we come to the second chapter of James. James, the half-brother of Jesus, had lived much of his life in the same home with Jesus. He saw Jesus live a perfect life. Jesus never talked back to his mother, never stole his brothers’ toys, never lied. You get the picture of life with the perfect older brother. While it must have been quite annoying at times, there clearly would have been something undeniably different about Jesus.
Then, Jesus began his earthly ministry. He left the family business and started calling these strange men to follow him. They went all over and proclaimed that the kingdom of God was at hand. Jesus taught in the synagogues, expounding on passages in ways that baffled his listeners. It was said that Jesus turned water into wine at a family wedding, that he broke a few loaves of bread and fish to feed over 5,000 people. Then there were the many, many stories of Jesus healing the blind, the deaf, and the sick. Where would people come up with these kinds of stories? Every story had a common denominator – Jesus.
James persisted in unbelief in Jesus despite all that he had seen and all that he had heard. Then Jesus was crucified and resurrected. James saw the resurrected Jesus, and his life changed. James became a disciple of his brother and his Lord, and he was passionate to build the church. In building the church, James would remind the people of God that they were called to live differently than the world. They were not to just talk about their faith in Jesus Christ, but they were to live lives that emulated Jesus Christ. Part of that was to treat all people with dignity, whether rich or poor. All were welcome and important in the kingdom of God.
Jesus broke every social barrier. There was now no Jew or Gentile, slave or free, rich or poor. Instead, there were children of God and those who were yet to become children of God. James said to welcome everyone into the church, to show them the same honor, and to make no distinctions about the importance of one person over another. The kingdom of God looks very different from the kingdom of this world. James knew that well as he clung to the kingdom of this world while his brother was building the kingdom of God before his very eyes. How easy it was to miss the great work of God!
James didn’t want his readers then or now to miss this great work! We miss the children of God when we show partiality. We miss building the body when we favor one person over another. Jesus made all worthy to hear and to receive. May we love them like Jesus and welcome them into our folds with open arms and open hearts!
Have you missed God’s work in your church community by overlooking people? How can you love those who enter and welcome them as Jesus would? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
In our six-week small group Bible study on the book of 1 John, you are invited to live and celebrate true life in Christ. Throughout his first letter, John wrestles with the assurance of salvation. How do we know that we are genuine Christians, and how can we recognize authentic faith in others? The Apostle John taught that you can enjoy full assurance through believing in the incarnate Son of God, walking in the light of obedience, and loving God and his children. Embark on this study with us today!
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