James 2 v. 1 – 7
‘My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism.
2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in.
3 If 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,”4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
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. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?
7 Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?’
The previous chapter ends with James urging the church to not allow itself to be ‘polluted by the world’, and this chapter opens with a specific example, by not allowing favouritism to be be practised in the life of the church.
‘The underlying attitude is that someone who is worth more in the world is worth more to the church.’
It is still the case that ‘God chooses to work by calling the world’s poor to be spiritually rich’ as the gospel appears to advance fastest among the poorest.
‘The church is not to resent the rich, but it is not to pin its hope on them’, either.
I wonder in what ways the church of the 21st Century shows favouritism to certain groups or people, or even unwittingly excludes others?
Let us build a house where love can dwell
and all can safely live,
a place where saints and children tell
how hearts learn to forgive.
Built of hopes and dreams and visions,
rock of faith and vault of grace;
here the love of Christ shall end divisions:
all are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place