Summary: In God's kingdom color doesn't matter, so we should see Christians of all races as our brothers and sisters.
No Place In The Church
Text: James 2:1-7
1. Illustration: Prejudice is a disease of the mind that affects the heart. Prejudice is, literally, a pre-formed opinion, usually unfavorable, based on insufficient knowledge, irrational feelings or inaccurate stereotypes. We are all familiar with what is called racial prejudice. More accurately, it should be called "ethnic" prejudice, since there is only one race, and that is the human race – but that’s another study for another time.
2. It's not very difficult to see that there is tremendous racial tensions in our nation. They are at a high such as we have not seen since the 1960's. But do you know where there should never be racial tension? In the church!
3. James makes this clear when he gives us...
A. A Command
B. A Case
C. A Consequence
4. Let's stand together as we read James 2:1-7.
Proposition: In God's kingdom color doesn't matter, so we should see Christians of all races as our brothers and sisters.
Transition: First, James gives us a command.
I. A Command (1).
A. Favor Some People
1. It seems to make sense that there would be no discrimination within the church. After all we are all sinners saved by Grace regardless of the color of our skin, socio-economic status or ethnic background. Yet history seems to tell us a different story.
A. American history shows us that there has racial tensions within the church.
B. Even our Pentecostal history shows us of a separation by race as we have a Pentecostal church for the white's (AG) and a Pentecostal church for the black's (COGIC).
2. But my brother's and sister's this should not be, for James tells us in v. 1, "My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?"
A. On this verse I prefer the NIV which says, "My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism."
B. The reason I prefer the NIV's rendering is that it points out that this is a command! It's not a suggestion, but rather an imperative. There is to be no discrimination in the church!
C. The word translated favor here both its lit. mng. ("receiving the face") and usage denote a judgment based on outward appearance (Vlachos, Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament – James, 67).
D. In other words we are not to show favoritism one way or another based on how a person looks.
E. Just as God does not show partiality, neither should believers. Whether people are rich or poor, powerful or weak, influential or despised, to show favoritism to one at the expense of the other is a sin (James 2:1ff.).
F. James says that such partiality often is shown to the very ones who are oppressing, cheating, and exploiting believers! To be guilty of such is to slander the Lord! (The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Pi-Rho, Under: "4240).
G. The brothers and sisters were members of the church and his family in the Christian faith. The family relationship he is describing is limited to those who have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.
H. Because of their shared position as believers, James’s readers were to follow the instructions he was about to give them.
I. The believers receiving this letter were already guilty of showing favor to some people more than others. The believers apparently were judging people based only on externals—physical appearance, status, wealth, power; as a result, they were pandering to and being unduly influenced by people who represented these positions of prestige.
J. James’s command remains important for churches today. Often we treat a well-dressed, impressive-looking person better than someone who looks poor.
K. We do this because we would rather identify with successful people than with apparent failures. The irony, as James reminds us, is that the supposed winners may have gained their impressive lifestyle at our expense.
L. Our churches should show no partiality with regard to people’s outward appearance, wealth, or power. The law of love must rule all our attitudes toward others.
M. Too often preferential treatment is given to the rich or powerful when offices for the church need to be filled. Too often, a church brushes aside the suggestions of its more humble or poorer members in favor of the ideas of the wealthy. Such discrimination has no place in our churches (Barton, 1076-1077).
B. God Looks At The Heart
1. In his famous, "I Have A Dream" speech in 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."