Dear Church Family,
On Sunday someone kindly thanked me for the sermon, but were honest in saying: “Can’t say that I enjoyed your sermon, but it was a message I needed to hear.” If you missed the sermon you can listen to it here.
James has some convicting things to say to us and he’s not one to mince words. James 2:1-13 is evidence of this. He declares to the church that if we truly profess that Jesus Christ is Lord than our actions must reflect that. In chapter 2 James specifically addresses the connection between the church’s faith in Jesus Christ and their treatment of the poor. It’s become clear that the church has shown partiality to the rich over the poor. In fawning over a rich person and not even offering a poor person a seat during worship the church has introduced a worldly hierarchy into the church. A hierarchy that is antithetical to the Kingdom of God as God does not measure a person’s worth based on their paycheck. According to James, showing partiality to the rich demonstrates a lack of faith – it demonstrates that we don’t trust the message of Jesus and think we have to follow the ways of the world to be successful.
It’s a difficult message to hear, but a message that needs to be heard as all of us are prone to distrust the message of Jesus Christ. We are broken people after all. It’s also not just the poor we must be careful to not discriminate against, but any group that has found themselves marginalized. Whether it’s due to their level of education, gender, ethnicity or immigration status etc. James warns us to not discriminate against any group that society has deemed “less than” for God’s view of such groups is the opposite. Throughout scripture God lifts up the poor and the powerless. We don’t need to look further than Jesus Christ himself who “though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him…” (Philippians 2: 6-9) to see how God is in the business of lifting up the poor and the lowly.
While it’s never enjoyable to come to terms with our own prejudices and tendencies to discriminate it leads us to admit our need to ask Christ for forgiveness and allow him to give us eyes to see our neighbor as they truly are and not how the world sees them. It’s not God’s will for us to be oppressed or to be the oppressors as both are slaves to a worldly hierarchy that entraps and hurts people. Our hope, however is in Jesus Christ, who came to us free from all that keeps us from experiencing the freedom that is only found in him.
Walking in faith alongside you,
Kristine Aragon Bruce
Associate Pastor for Family Ministries