Click on the arrow to hear the 9th reflection in our series, "The Chair & the Floor" (11 mins).
- Might we have a wrong view of religion – could our religion be “worthless” (Jas 1:26)? Do I excuse myself with the thought, "Perhaps I don’t need to worry about orphans and widows. After all, I’m not that wealthy. I’m just middle class."
- James himself was not a wealthy man (the implication of 1 Cor 9:5). Nor was Jesus. Nor was the Lord's family well-to-do, even after his earthly ministry. (The story of Jude's grandsons, called to appear before the emperor Domitian [81-96 AD].) There was no elite "Jesus dynasty."
- The meeting (v.2) may be a regular church gathering, or a special church "court" (see 1 Cor 6:1-8); it doesn't matter which is the case.
- Two men walk in at the same time, one obviously wealthy, the other dirt poor. The community is guilty of favoritism.
- James challenges snobbery and partiality—and as we will see in the next reflection, a few verses later, those showing this sort of favoritism are undermining their own best interests.
- How about us? Do we show special attention to the rich? Are we afraid to offend them?
- I have observed that church leaders often treat them deferentially, holding back from preaching the truth lest they be offended. Further, church leaders tend to treat them preferentially, esp. since they hope to benefit from their donations.
- Further, there are implications for servant leadership. Jesus criticized the Pharisees for always wanting the best seats (Matt 23:6). Many Christian leaders are the ones with the fine clothes. And in many churches the pastor is the wealthiest person in the entire congregation!
- Have we become judges with evil thoughts? Are we guilty of favoritism and elitism? Are some of our attitudes towards wealth and power identical to those of the world?
Next: Oppressors & Oppressed