God’s Subversive Provision
Gracious God, for uncounted generations, You have shown kindness and mercy. I lift my voice in praise to You for Your great providence.
Read James 2:1-13
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Cor. 1:27b). The values God would have us embrace are often the opposite of the world.
Time spent in the slums in Brazil left me in no doubt that the Gospel is good news for the poor. Sweaty, smelly Christians in the heat of an unforgiving sun, far from the public water tap, exuded joy and praise. Many were outstanding natural evangelists, because they radiated the awareness that God considered them priceless even if society designated them worthless.
James uses differing treatment of rich and poor in a meeting as an example of outrageous partiality and discrimination. A glittering individual is ushered to a front seat, while a destitute beggar is shoved aside. In God’s Kingdom, James insists, socio-economic status is irrelevant. What matters is spiritual wealth. The moment we forget this and display self-interested partiality, we contravene God’s loving will and expose ourselves to judgment. Consequently, name dropping and cliques should not happen in our churches today. Attention to titles and citation of educational achievements in church newsletters or on ministry letterhead is inappropriate and intimidating.
By the same token, bias is evident when it is assumed that someone who is poor falls into the category of needing help and having nothing to contribute. In James’s example, the person of low rank is undervalued and consigned to sit passively. Today, such stereotyping needn’t be restricted to the size of wallet. It could be children or the unemployed, the infirm or single parents, those with disabilities or those from ethnic minorities who are overlooked in terms of what they can offer. If we behave as though only some have gifts they can exercise, we are missing out on God’s subversive provision. Genuine appreciation and celebration of all, irrespective of race, age, status or health, demonstrates that we truly grasp the meaning of God’s grace. Part of the wonder of the Gospel is that God chooses and can use every one of us in surprising and delightful ways.
What does this passage say to you about your conscious or unconscious treatment of others?
Gracious Father, You have shown Your love and mercy to me. Show me practical ways I can show Your love and mercy to others.