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!