Summary: We need to see others the way that God sees them.
September 30, 2012
Text: James 2:1-13
Title: Equal in God’s Eyes
I grew up in a turbulent time – the 60’s. We saw the attack on our culture from the enemy through music and movies. We saw the assassination of a president. We saw an unpopular war being waged that was never meant to be won. And we experienced prejudice in our culture that was being challenged by the civil rights movement.
My Mom and Dad grew up in the south in northeast Arkansas in Greene County. They have told me that they could count the number of times they ever saw a black person in their town. They grew up in fear of those who were different than they were. That same mistrust and fear was in our home growing up. We were taught while we were growing up in suburban St. Louis, in a town called Ferguson, that you never went into Kinloch. It was too dangerous for a white to go into a black neighborhood. I honestly cannot remember ever having any kind of contact with a person of color until we moved out of the city. In the country, just outside of Flint Hill, one of our neighboring families was a bi-racial family. Can you imagine how they were looked down upon back then? But one of the boys in the family was our age and we spent a lot of time together. Then when we moved to Troy a few years later we had quite a few African American kids in our class. One of my best friends was Larry Littleton. His dad was a hard working man – a plumber by trade and everyone respected him. But I could never invite Larry to our house. My parents would never have allowed that.
My mom and my step-dad ran a country store. All the old timers would come and sit around inside and swap stories. All except Pete Bradshaw. Pete would come in and get a soda and a candy bar and then go sit on a bench outside the store. Because of the color of his skin it wasn’t allowed for him to sit inside. Pete was my favorite. I loved to listen to the stories he told of his younger days and some of those stories were stories of prejudice. I was so thankful that after many years of being left outside Pete was finally allowed to sit inside and participate in the conversation with the other locals.
Where did the church go wrong? What happened to cause even bible believing Spirit –filled Christians to be filled with hatred towards another who had been created in His image? The Book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus died for the sin of all mankind – once and for all. What part of for all did the church not understand?
The reason that I raise those questions is because of what our passage says today. And though we may think that we aren’t like our parents or grandparents, I am going to challenge you today to look at yourself to see how you really are toward those who are different than you.
Read James 2:1-13
I believe this is God’s Word…
I believe it is for me…
I accept it as mine…
And I appropriate it to my life today…
We are all equal in God’s eyes.
I. BELIEVERS DON’T SHOW FAVORITISM… 1My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. In many of the New Testament letters, the writers were trying to correct issues that were already taking place within the church. The grammatical construction of “don’t show favoritism” in the original Greek could easily read, “stop showing favoritism.” Why? Because to do so is inconsistent with the Christian faith. We should never accept or reject anyone because of their appearance, social status, race etc. Paul wrote to the churches in Galatia, Galatians 3:26-28, 26You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. A significant aspect of the work of Jesus was to break down these walls that divided humanity, and to bring forth one new race of mankind in Him. Ephesians 2:14-15, 14For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, In order to address the problem James goes into a hypothetical situation, 2Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Look at verse 2. the word “meeting” is the Greek word synagoge. This is the only place in the New Testament where this Greek word is used to refer to the church. And here it is obvious because James was writing to Jewish Christians that they would continue to think of their meeting palace as a synagogue. It also helps us understand the mindset behind the way they were treating people in the church. The prevailing Jewish thought was the more a person had, the more favor they had from God. God blesses those who are obedient to Him. So if God is showing them favor, then why shouldn’t we? In verse 3, the word “if” is better translated “since”. It shows that they were practicing discrimination against the poorer brothers. Verses 3 and 4 confirm it. 3If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? That is the problem. We often discriminate against others without even realizing it. We just choose not to get to know them or associate with them. It is so much easier to respond like that than it is to take time to get to know someone. Listen to me; there is a big difference between talking to someone for 5-10 minutes before or after church and really getting to know them. It takes real effort to become acquainted with people. And that is what believers are called to do.