Summary: Mercy is the cure for discrimination
Mercy is the cure for discrimination.
I grew up in a small city in south western Ontario called Sarnia. There were very few Chinese people in the city. In fact when my older sister was born my father received recognition from the mayor since she was the first Chinese born in the city. In school the only Chinese children were basically my sister, my brother and me. Of course people treated me differently. I regularly encountered situations where I was called racist names, sometimes behind my back, and sometimes in front of my face. But in one sense I sort of expected it. After all, this world is a segregated and racist place. You only have to read the stories in the paper to see how discrimination causes attacks, murders and even mass bombings.
We expect discrimination in the world. It doesnâ€™t mean itâ€™s right and that we shouldnâ€™t do all we can to fight against it, but itâ€™s expected. But what about the Christian church? Is the church free from discrimination? No, I donâ€™t think you can say that. They say that in the southern United States that Sunday morning is the most segregated time of the week. Thatâ€™s when whites go to their churches and blacks go to their churches and the two never meet.
Well, the worldwide church may not be doing so well with discrimination, but what about our church? What about BTBC? Over the years God has granted me quite a few cross cultural learning experiences. I grew up in a predominantly white church. I worked for many years in a predominantly black church. I served as a missionary in Papua New Guinea serving with Melanesian people. But I have to say coming to this church is as much of an adjustment for me as working in a predominantly black church or going on the mission field. You see growing up without a Chinese community I grew up as a banana, thatâ€™s yellow on the outside but white on the inside. Coming here I am both excited at the prospect of being reunited with my roots, but also anxious about trying to fit in. I feel guilty because Iâ€™m not Chinese enough. Iâ€™m ashamed I donâ€™t know Mandarin or Cantonese. And sometimes I feel like Iâ€™m left out of conversations and social situations because I donâ€™t understand what people are saying.
Being with people weâ€™re comfortable with is natural. Thereâ€™s nothing wrong with that, but if we exclude others while we spend time with those in our close social circles then we are sinning. We are showing favouritism for our friends and we are showing discrimination toward those who we neglect and avoid. Favouritism and discrimination are really two sides of the same coin.
God takes discrimination and favouritism very seriously. When we show favouritism to one and discrimination to another, we have sinned. We have been looking at the book of James, and weâ€™ve focused on the main theme of the book: Real faith leads to real action. In this passage this morning, James 2:1-13 we will see that real faith leads to the real action of mercy instead of discrimination. (Read passage.)
Mercy is the cure for discrimination. This passage lists five reasons why we cannot show prejudice against others.
First, we are all in the same family. Look at verse one (read verse). James begins this passage by calling us brothers and believers in the glorious Lord Jesus Christ. When we became Christians we were transferred into a new family, a spiritual one. Christians are all brothers and sisters in Christ. If we are related in this way then how can we treat our brothers and sisters with favouritism and discrimination? In a very real way when we become Christians we transcend our birth race and the culture we were raised in. We donâ€™t lose our heritage, but when we become Christians we have a new culture that supersedes our upbringing. Galatians 3:26-29 says (read verses). As Christians there is no longer Jew or Greek, that means there is no longer any race distinction among Christians.
There is no longer slave or free. That means there is no longer any discrimination because of different economic or social status. There is no longer any male or female. That means there is no longer any sexism or judging in terms of gender.
When you received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, itâ€™s true, you were changed, spiritually, but this change also affects every aspect of our lives. It affects us in the deepest parts of our identity. I can say that Iâ€™m a Chinese Canadian man who works as a pastor at Bridle Trail Baptist Church. I can say Iâ€™m a husband of a beautiful woman and father of three wonderful children. Those descriptions are all totally true, but there is one description that should come first. I am a child of God. And if you are a Christian, then you are my brother or sister. We share the same spiritual experience. We follow the same leader. We have the same heavenly Father. And we are heading for the same destiny. How can I discriminate against you when we have so much in common?