Have you ever noticed how the church falls all over itslef to cozy up to some celebrity who merely mentions that “Jesus seems okay”? We have a strange duality in our response to Hollywood. On one hand we blame them for every evil known to man and for the intentional corruption of our youth. On the other, there are few things we get more excited about than the revelation that one of these famous “insiders” is allied with our cause.
This is nothing new. It’s gone on since the days of Augustine when the famous philosopher Victorinus publicly converted to Christianity and the church in Rome got the vapors they were so stoked. The obvious reason for our celebration over celebrities is the great amount of influence and credibility we imagine that they will add to Jesus’ gospel! After all, that’s what Jesus did – he scoured the cities buttering up and winning over the most influential people he could find to provide a sense of legitimacy to his movement……oh wait. Sorry, I was thinking of someone else, a politician maybe.
A rich man, a type of celebrity did come to Jesus asking to follow him once. Jesus didn’t seem impressed.
This Sunday we’ll be reading James 2:1-13.
Once again, James’ words need very little explanation. The point is clear: Don’t show favoritism towards one person because of what they may have to offer and dishonor someone else who has less. Love impartially. Nobody is better than anybody else because the same mercy covers us all. Pretty straightforward.
But historically, we’ve seemed to have a hard time getting that right. Our emphasis at Eastgate on casual meeting style sort of diminishes the tendency to parade our bling on Sunday mornings. It would be difficult to discern a difference between the median and the rich in our gathering. As a leader, I have no clue what anyone may give to the offerings so that avenue for knowing a person’s economic status is hidden from me and negating any influence it may have. That doesn’t mean we are immune from showing favoritism.
Considering our present culture, and even our church culture at Eastgate, what are some ways we could fall into the trap of showing favoritism? Who might we be tempted to prize and who might we be tempted to disregard? If we consider what James is saying to us, how can we keep this from happening in our community gatherings?
Good stuff to ruminate on. See you Sunday!
2 thoughts on “An Impartial Love”
We follow the creator of the universe, the one that spoke and everything was created. He has been and will always be. His death allows us to speak one on one with God. But that’s not enough for us. For some reason Jesus doesn’t have enough gravitas for us. But Robert Zimmerman (Bob Dylan) did? Old Bobby was right, you do have to serve somebody, but in pushing the glitterati to the front of the line, aren’t we just continuing the goofiness of the world? Why do we feel like we need to prove to the world that Jesus is cool? What’s next, a TMZ for Christians? Maybe more obscene is the way the church seems to create stars of it’s on. Yes, you should respect those in the ministry, but the way these guys and gals are worshipped is scary, but I digress.
James talks about the Royal Rule of the Scriptures treat others like you want to be treated. I think there is a Royal Rule part deux, ours is an upside kingdom. Should we be happy when Brian Head Welch cleans up his life and joins us in our journey — sure. Did Jesus bleed and die more for Brian than someone else because Jesus needed a big name rock star to add legitimacy to his little club? Don’t really think so. See, there are no rope lines in heaven, no red carpets, no clubs were only the hip and hot are allowed in. In this new reality, we have been given the King’s last name, he accepts any that will turn his way. He adopted us into his family, we are now his – rich or poor, hipster or geek, old or young. That understanding, that love is really what gives our little club its gravitas, grace so amazing.
I think as a family Eastgate is pretty good at not knowingly showing favoritism. There are little things here and there that I’ve heard though, every once in a while, that have caused me to look inward and see what sort of favoritism lies in my own heart. I think two big issues could be politics and denomination. No one that I know of wants to approach the subject of politics while ‘in church’, but it definitely has a divisive factor that we need to be aware of and pay close attention to in our own hearts so we don’t unwittingly let favoritism in. Also, what denomination people are. Obviously our own family is ‘non-denominational’ but as you’ve pointed out many times before, we need to be careful not let that turn into ‘I’m right. You’re wrong. I know better than you so you just sit down.’
I think sometimes the activities that we participate in or even things as small as likes and dislikes can tend to divide us just a little. If it’s not paid attention to something so little can turn into 1/2 the church going one way and 1/2 the church going another. Each side looking down at the other thinking their side is ‘right’ or ‘better’. Wednesday night Cole had an awesome point when he talked about the division among us with age and how that is something we need to pay attention to and rectify. That was awesome!
I really do feel as though our Eastgate family does an amazing job loving each other eaqually and not letting any differences effect us in a way that we would show favoritism. I feel like that’s something we actively pay attention to and work hard at. (At least that’s what I see from my perspective.) Sometimes I wonder if that translates to the world outside of our family though. Do we, do I, treat the outside world the same as I do our family? Do I love them the same? I try. But if I’m honest, I fail more times than I’d like to admit to myself.
I LOVE James! I love that he gets straight to the point and makes us take a look at ourselves in a way that most times we’d rather not.