This week’s scripture (James 2:1-17) should be challenging to every one of us. At first glance, this looks like a 2000 year old Occupy Wall Street campaign (One of the first places we see people talking about reading James is in Alexandria, thus the title). James places a lot of emphasis on caring for the poor at least equally to how we care for the rich (though I think his suggestion would go beyond equality). The picture painted here is incredibly relevant given the national discussions of the last decade.
However, I think that to leave this about class or economics probably misses the larger point. Where are we showing favoritism in our lives? Who do we treat better than others? Who do we look down on? The Greek word used in the passage this week that is translated as “favoritism” or “preferential treatment” is prosopolampteite. If you break the word down into its component parts it literally means “to turn your face up” –the very definition of a snob—“to turn your nose up” in our common idiom.
Though the class or economic challenge is certainly hard enough, in and of itself, the challenge is even bigger than that. James’ audience was being encouraged to embrace those people that they would have had a hard time embracing. This challenge seems to be the consistent challenge throughout scripture—take care of those people that you would rather ignore!
Take some time to think about who might fall into this category for you personally—There will be a quiz on Sunday! No, seriously. There will be a quiz on this on Sunday during the sermon! See ya’ then!