Summary: Fourth in a series on James. Deals with the fact that there are a number of ways in which favoritism shows up in the church today.
A Study of the Book of James
Sermon # 4
“Are You A Christian Snob?”
Let me open this morning’s message by asking you a question, “Are you a Christian snob? Before you answer that question too quickly ask yourself, “Who, outside of your present circle of friends, have you attempted to include in your life recently?”
Almost all of us walk around with a unpublished list in our minds of desirable and undesirable people. Some prefer to be around educated folks and look down at those who are not academic enough. Some of us would rather spend with young people and do not have time for the aged. Some have race or ethic groups that we would rather not associate with. Most of us want to be around people just like we are, or want to be.
But, how can we refuse to accept and associate with one whom God has received? How can we exclude from our lives, and with-hold our friendship and our fellowship from someone God has welcomed into fellowship with Himself?
This is not a new problem, however, it is as old as Christianity. James writing to the first century church, very clearly brought this problem to light.
First, There Is A Principle to Remember (2:1) “My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.”
James addresses the readers as “my brothers,” reminding us that the problem he is about to discuss is a family concern. When-ever he uses that term he is ready to point out something that needs to be changed in their lives.
The issue is “partiality.” The literal meaning of this word is “to receive one’s face.” “Partiality” or as it is translated in some versions, “respect of persons” is mentioned several times in the New Testament. But in every other case the subject of the verse is God and it is expressed negatively. “God does not show partiality.”(Acts 10:34) “God is not a respecter of persons.” “God does not receive people by face.” “God does not judge by externals, he judges the heart.” (1 Pet. 1:17)
Interestingly we find the phrase “no difference” occurs twice in the book of Romans. It is used first with reference to our human sinfulness. “There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:22-23 NIV). Second, it is used with reference to God’s grace extended to all who will call on Him. “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’” (10:12-13 NIV). [Darrell W. Robinson, “People Sharing Jesus,” (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995), p. 128 - www.bible.org/illus./prejudice]
There are a number of ways in which favoritism shows up in the church today.
We can favor people based on their gifts and abilities. Who is the most important, the preacher or the sound man? The deacon or the Sunday School teacher? The nursery worker or the greeter in the Welcome Ministry? The truth is that one is not better than the other, they are just utilizing different gifts.
We can show favoritism on the basis of personality, or looks or economic standing. But none of that has any place in the church of Jesus Christ.
The basis of Christian action and
attitude according to verse one is faith in the “Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.” Notice in your Bibles the phrase “the lord of glory,” that the words “the Lord” in the NKJV are in italics indicating that it is added by the translators for clarity. It is perhaps more striking in this case, however, to omit them because the verse then reads, “Christ is the glory.” Just as the Shekinah was the visible glory of God dwelling with man in the Old Testament (Ezek. 13:21-22), Jesus Christ was and is God’s glory dwelling among men in the New Testament!
What James is telling us here is not to profess faith in Christ and at the same time be a spiritual snob. Don’t join some little clique in the church. Every believer in the church are a part of the body of Christ. Those whom he has deemed worthy to receive we should be careful about avoiding.
Not Only is there a Principle to Remember there is
Secondly, There Is A Problem to Remedy (2: 2-4) “For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, (3) and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool.”