Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How a young man KNOWS he is really a Christian....

When I was a young and single buck, I knew I was really a Christian when a beautiful young single woman and a shabbily-dressed homeless man walked into church at the same time. I knew I was really a Christian - or at least acting like one - because, remembering James 2 and not favoring the rich over the poor, I went over and greeted the homeless guy.

He then said, "good for you, young man, I am really a millionaire and this young woman is my assistant. Because you have been such a swell Christian, I am making you my heir!"

Well, no. He didn't say that. Back to real life. He just mumbled and smiled and shook my hand. At that point in my life I could have cared less if someone was rich or not, I just knew that she had something I wanted and he didn't. I was on the verge of being asked by James, "have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?"

A Jewish judge wasn't just an interpreter of the law, he was also its enforcer. He was supposed to stand up for the weak. James tasks his readers for being "on the take", so smitten by the rich that they are given preferential treatment.

I can hear some modern Church Growth Leader saying, "you must court the wealthy if you want to build and maintain good buildings and programs." Maybe churches should think twice about any initiative that requires pandering to the rich. If preachers are reduced to dancing for their supper, then who needs Jesus?

James preaches love and mercy. Rather than judge the poor - for example, welshing on our debt of love with Darwinian condemnation and poorly interpreted scripture ("the poor will be with you always") - we are called to show mercy, "because judgement without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful." And then James says what is probably my THIRD favorite scripture:

Mercy triumphs over judgement!

That is Jesus, so that is us, or should be.

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