I praise You, Lord. You’re always there, even when I’m unaware of You. Teach me Your Word today, I pray.
Read James 2:1-13
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“O Lord, let us fear nothing more than we fear you. Let us love nothing more than we love you, for thus we shall fear nothing, also” (Alan Paton).
The call to follow Jesus is a call to radical difference–a call to live in alignment with the character and values of a holy, just and merciful God. In our readings from Luke we have seen some of the wonderful implications of this as Jesus challenged the shallowness and bigotry of the prevailing religious culture.
At the heart of the Kingdom proclaimed by Jesus are two great and amazing truths: every person is created in the image of God, and every person is equally loved by the Creator. No matter what status society may give us, we are all of equal worth in the eyes of God. When the church fails to incarnate these truths, it is a terrible failure for it strikes at the very heart of the gospel. This is why James was so appalled by the discriminatory behavior of the Christians he was writing to. Their fawning over the rich dishonored the poor (2,3,6), raised questions about the authenticity of their faith (1), and breached the command to “love your neighbor as yourself” (8). This was not the countercultural behavior of the Kingdom of God, and he urged them to live and act as those who’d been liberated in Christ (12).
In 1710, a British mission society inherited a Caribbean slave plantation. Instead of liberating their slaves, they rebranded them with the word “Society.” Before condemning them too harshly, we should appreciate that their behavior reflected the prevailing views of their day. Like the recipients of James’ letter, they were subjected to unrelenting pressure to conform to society’s dominant ways of thinking and living. Because the same is true of us, we must be on our guard, vigilantly subjecting our attitudes and actions to the scrutiny of Scripture.
“Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-make you so that your whole attitude of mind is changed” (Rom. 12:1, J.B. Phillips). How can you achieve these goals?
Lord, I want to respond sensitively to the cultural challenges I face. Help me see Your Lordship in these difficult matters.