Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Sin of Favorites

In the church today, I think we have a big problem that is being overlooked. I think it's huge, it's massive and it's killing our church and we ignore it. It's not pride of our pastors and leaders (although that's probably number two and needs it's own blog). It's not liberalism or legalism or bad doctrine. All those things are bad, but I really believe the slippery slope began with the sin of showing some individuals partiality. Let's look at some scripture.

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?
If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
James 2:1-10

There isn't a whole lot of exegesis to this passage necessary. It was clear that James is pointin out that when we give honor to the rich and dishonor the poor, we are sinning. James points out where it's blatant, like the best places to sit and honor. Often it's more subtle. How many wealthy people in our churches have title and position? How many poor people? It's not pleasant to think about, but often those who are professional and successful and fit the "American ideal" are those who are in control of the church. Those who are not doing so well, they are not as influential. It effects things in the church. Decisions are made to keep those who have in control and those who don't on the fringes. Those with power can influence and make decisions that are not Godly. How many men have been forced out of church by a few with power and influence.

What's the answer? First, we need to admit it and acknowledge its' a problem. We need to look around our churches for those who are fit to lead and serve but may not have the status. We need to repent and maybe even remove some leaders/deacons/elders who are not as qualified to lead but have degrees and status and money and power. We need to begin looking beyond what society looks at, admit and repent of the partiality.  We need to look at the status of our church, many things we do or don't do because of pressure of those who get special treatment. Many of the legalism or the liberalism began simply with trying to make the powerful  people happy.

We need to look at the decisions that we overlook. In a church, there was a young couple who were told they couldn't serve in ministry because they were not involved in a Sunday School class, yet a man and his wife who had influence and money were allowed to miss all small group experiences. This is sin, and if you find giving a pass to the rich or influential, it's time to repent. If you hold the poor, young or less impressive to a higher standard than the rich, you are showing partiality. This is in. If the doctrine, teachings or ministries of your church a directed by the needs, wants, or opinions of a few powerful people, that is sin.

It's time to put God in the middle of our ministries and church life. It's time to get rid of the politics and games that we too often play.  Let's look at people the way God looks at people, not at the bank account or social status, but at the heart.

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