I had the awesome opportunity to speak to college students recently. InterVarsity is a vibrant Christian community on the downtown Richmond campus of VCU, they just began a study through James, and I tackled James 2:1-13 on the subject of “Favoritism”.
Here’s a bit of my outline and notes. I also used a diaper with chocolate mashed up inside it for an illustration…but, I guess you had to be there for that!
There are two sides to favoritism:
1. lifting up the rich and influential
2. putting down the poor and less capable
A. LIFTING UP THE RICH
We can’t be a “respecter of persons” giving special attention to the rich, powerful, and influential. (V.1-5)
- Aren’t they the ones who are exploiting you? (v. 6-7)
- Aren’t they taking you to court?
- Aren’t they making fun of your “name”?
God sees us differently; the ground is level at the foot of the cross / we all need Jesus equally…
Let’s not treat the “cool” people better! WE’RE ALL EQUAL!!!
B. PUTTING DOWN THE POOR
5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor.
Again, God sees differently. WE ARE NOT THE JUDGE, HE IS!
Every single person is a child of God, a divine creature…
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit,? for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,? for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,? for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,? for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,? for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,? for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,? for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“The last will be first, and the first will be last.” The Great Reversal.
I closed this section with one of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes on the subject. Check it out…
“The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken.
It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.
There are no ordinary people.
You have never talked to a mere mortal.
Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat.
But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.
This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn.
We must play.
But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.
And our charity must be real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner—no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment.
Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.”
There are no ordinary people…
- Why do this? What’s our motivation?
12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
MATT. 7:1“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
MERCY TRIUMPHS OVER JUDGEMENT…LET MERCY TRIUMPH!
“One of the most subtle dangers in the church, is that we tend to cater to people that can help us, rather than to those we can help!”
We prefer the rich and powerful because we might “get something” from them.
What if we were so full of God that we never needed anything from anyone?
What if we could go through life with Ps. 23:1 on our lips; “The Lord is my Shepherd, I have all that I need”?
What if we could simply give?
Like Jesus; “who didn’t come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many”
The kind of people Jesus reached out to: Children, prostitutes, loan shark tax collectors, adulterers, criminals…the poor
What if we could follow in His footsteps a bit more in this way?
I planned an intentional time of responsive prayer to end this, and the band did great in accompanying the time of worship and reflection. I asked these questions and provided lots of space for silence and personal prayer…
- Where in your life have you felt judged – good or bad? What was that like, how did it feel?
- When have you judged others recently?
- Do you struggle more with elevating the rich or devaluing the poor right now in your life?
- What is God saying to you now? What action step is he inviting you toward?
Thank you, IV and VCU! I can’t wait to hang with you guys again!!