James 2:1 tells us not to show favouritsm. It says, “Verse 1 says, “My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favour some people over others?”
It is a straight forward and clear reminder not to favour one person over another. In verses 2-4 it gives the example of favouring richer well-dressed people over poor people. It talks about giving richer people preferential seating, while the poor sit on the floor. It pretty much says “rich at front, poor on the floor”.
Recently I read a story I want to share that illustrates this point. It is about a Pastor and what God asked him to do before he started at his new church. It made such an impact in his community that it was reported in newspapers and on TV at the time. I will put links on the website version on this message.
“On the morning of Sunday, June 23, 2013, the newly-appointed pastor of Sango United Methodist Church in Clarksville, Tennessee, Willie Lyle, lay down at the foot of a tree on the church grounds with an overcoat for a blanket. Unkept and bearded after spending most of the previous week on the streets, he looked for all the world like a homeless man, which was precisely the effect he hoped to achieve.
“He wondered how many people would approach him and offer him food, or a place to sit inside an air-conditioned room, or just see how they could help,” wrote freelance reporter Tim Parrish in a June 28 story for the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle. “Twenty people spoke to him and offered some type of assistance.”
When the time came to deliver his inaugural sermon he did so from that very spot, changing into a jacket and tie and shaving off his beard with the help of his daughter as he spoke. “Before the 200 people gathered that morning,” Parrish wrote, “he went from looking like a homeless person to the new pastor of the congregation.”
Appropriately, Lyle’s sermon was a call to emulate Christ, to not judge other people by appearances. “Our goal should be to improve and change the lives of people as we live like Jesus,” he said in closing. “You see, we look at the outside of others and make judgments. God looks inside at our heart and sees the truth.”
We need to remember that God sees everyone as special, as created in His image and made with a purpose. And there is not one person in this world that Jesus did not die for. As a result, we can’t discriminate and treat others differently.