Focal Passage: James 2:1-13
I enjoy a good crime drama, especially when the profilers go to work. They analyze the evidence at the crime scene and the criminal’s behavior and begin to put together a profile of the unknown subject. In reality these investigators play a vital role in solving criminal cases. Thankfully, the local church needs no such profilers. Tragically, most churches have members ready and willing to provide such dishonorable service. They’re looking for people with the right wardrobe, socioeconomic level, smell, and skin color. They must be clean, quiet and able to behave in church, even if they’ve never attended. James reprimanded the first century profilers, because they treated the undesirables like slaves and became “judges with evil motives” (2:4).
James condemned the early church’s choices, telling them they were choosing the people who persecuted other believers and overlooking the people God had chosen. When my brother-in-law moved to a new area to start his own business, his partner told him to go to the biggest Baptist church in the area because it would be good for business. As a man of God, he refused and went to the church where God led his family. This story is just one example of how “impressive” church people may use the church for selfish purposes. Do we desire the poor and blessed or the beautiful and blasphemous? Although we might be tempted to dismiss this problem as a minor sin, James reminds us that such behavior breaks the second great commandment. By so doing, his legalistic readers were breaking a law just as important as those against murder or adultery. Thankfully, we are called to speak and act as believers under the law of liberty. Because we have been freed from sin by the grace of God, we must freely seek to embrace the unwanted members of society. Jesus was criticized for reaching out to the poor, the blind and the lame. While the Pharisees considered them condemned by God, Jesus showed them love and mercy. Which model are you following?