Summary: God looks beyond the outward appearance and He wants us to be the same.
James 2:1-10, 14-17
The problem with human beings is that too often we judge things by how they appear and miss the bigger picture. We take notice of all sorts of things like what colour people are, where they were born, how they talk, how much money they have, what car they drive, which Church they attend etc.
Yet I think that to our God these things are nonsense! Why? Because God looks beyond the outward appearance and He wants us to be the same.
If we make judgements about people by the cars they drive or the way they dress then we are living our lives according to the standards of the world that we are supposed to have grown out of and we are putting ourselves against God.
In the Old Testament part of the Bible we find this laid out clearly for us.
1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV) ‘But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."’
God has in mind that we would behave in the same way – not making ridiculous decisions about people based on how they appear to be.
This is something we as a Church here have to address as I do not look like any of your previous Ministers. I am younger to boot, and do not wear any special clerical clothing.
I had a new cooker delivered to the Manse this week and the delivery driver on seeing me in jeans and T Shirt said ‘Are you sure you are Minister – you don’t look like one.’ I said great thank you, because I think part of our calling as Christian’s is to challenge people’s assumptions about how the Church should be. We need to be saying to people like those delivery men that even they can be followers of Jesus – that it isn’t the preserve of one type or class of person.
If you decide that because I don’t wear the ‘right’ or ‘normal’ clothing that I am not Ministerial enough for you we will never be able to achieve all God has in store for us.
The last part of the James reading reminds us that not only do we have to be better at accepting others and try to use God’s way of judging, but we also have to match what we say with how we act. If we don’t then we are frauds and hypocrites, and Jesus reserved His worst condemnation and criticism for the religious hypocrites.
Too often as Christian’s the way we praise God on a Sunday isn’t matched by our behaviour in our homes, at our schools, at work or play.
We have to take seriously this calling to be disciples / followers of Jesus.
I pray we all have the courage to have authentic real genuine Christian faith that by the power of God’s Spirit is more loving, less critical, more embracing of God’s ways and God’s people.
In Jesus name