In James 2:1-7, James talks about how the sin of partiality was infiltrating the church of Jerusalem through classism. There were some who wanted the rich to sit up front while the poor sat on the floor or in the back. (Sounds so juvenile.) When I read this it reminded me of the story of Rosa Parks. You probably know the story, but partiality, in the form of racism, was infiltrating America. What stands out most about both of these stories is that somewhere along the way, we allowed (and the early church allowed) our preferences to become our prejudices.
Fast forward to today…the sin of partiality is still prevalent in our culture and we continue to allow our preferences to become our prejudices. While it may not be blatant racism for some…we show partiality by continuing to flock to people who look like us. It may manifest itself in different forms other than racism such as; genderism, classism, agism, spiritual elitism, etc… However, if you’re in Christ and you’re white or black, or latino, or rich, or poor, or young or old… and only flock with ‘Your” people, the ones exactly the same, then you do not have a clear view of the Kingdom.
The people you flock to…well, let me throw a bomb at you, those are not “your” people. The Church is your people. Why? Because you are a citizen of The Kingdom. Look at what the Bible tells us in Ephesians. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” Ephesians 2:13-14
OUCH! This means that in the Kingdom of God there is no more racism, classism, genderism, agism, or spiritual elitism… Not in the Kingdom. It’s all a level playing field because through the cross of Christ, the wall of hostility has been torn down and we are ONE people. I think that is the message that James is trying to get across to the church. God shows no partiality…and neither should we because we are ONE people.
I think it would do the church some good if we spent more efforts towards mirroring the Kingdom (which is socially and racially diverse) and less effort on building our racial/social empires (or segregated hours of “church”).
May we live out the Gospel by diving in to what is uncomfortable…showing no partiality to what is different to us. Then, the world will know what true equality is.
For more Bible verses on partiality see Acts 10 (emphasis on verse 34).