Every week, on Monday, we will have a blog for you with resources for diving deeper into the sermon.
Picking back up in the James series, Pastor Andrew preached from James 2:1-13. These verses are a rebuke against the sin of partiality, which is an extreme form of favoritism. The main idea is this: While partiality flourishes in the world, it is forbidden in the church.
Verses 1-4 describe a situation with two people who come into a church gathering, one rich and one poor, and the congregation honored the rich person and dishonored the poor person. And that’s one way partiality can look. Partiality is valuing people based on something other than the image of God. When we favor people based on their economic standing, that’s called classism: classism is every bit the sin that racism is.
Verses 4-7 make the point that God doesn’t see people the way that we do. He does not show partiality, and the church should reflect the God and kingdom it serves. Kevin Vanhoozer says that “The church has no more important vocation than this: to be an embodied parable of the Kingdom of God.” That means that the actions of the church ought to reflect the kingdom that’s coming.
Verses 8-13 show us that if we get the gospel, we’ll love our neighbor no matter what their appearance or status. It’s impossible to hold faith and favoritism at the same time. Christians know that, before Christ, we were the spiritually poor, in desperate need of salvation. But Jesus became poor that we could become rich.
This truth has a deep impact on our choice of worldviews: the grace of God destroys partiality while secularism has no answer for it. The notions of equality of persons in our society comes from the Bible. But secularism wants to throw the Bible away, and eventually, the fruit of love of neighbor will disappear.
The big application is this: Practice mercy, not partiality. We see how to practice mercy when we look at the gospel and see that, in the end, for Christians, mercy triumphs over judgment. We should, then, be a lot quicker to extend mercy to others. We should stand opposed to partiality when we see it. We should despise slapping labels on people. Praise God that he doesn’t look at us the way we often look like each other!
James Reading Guide – We have broken the book of James down so we can read it over the course of the whole series together. This companion reading guide can be downloaded in full (with and introduction to the book) at the link provided.
-Alex Nolette (Equip Coordinator/Community Groups)