Read James 2
Imagine for a moment that we were able to transport you back in time to your days in junior high . . . complete with that weird hairdo and odd clothing (at least by today’s standards). Were you the first one chosen for the team in gym class, or were you the one your classmates felt stuck with? Were you part of the inside group with the inside scoop? Or were you the one on the outside . . . and, perhaps because you were a bit socially awkward, was the gossip about you?
Junior high is certainly a difficult time as people jostle for position–leaving a few casualties in their wake. It can be a time of cliques and favoritism, which painfully excludes some people. Most of us reading this are no longer in junior high.
Still, is it possible that favoritism is still just as much a part of our lives? Is it possible that we have just found more socially acceptable means of expressing that favoritism?
Rather than favoritism, Jesus followers should demonstrate acceptance. According to James, this is the kind of acceptance that gives little thought to financial stature. It does not esteem a person more or less because of what he/she wears. It does not offer unique privileges to those with certain external characteristics. It does not disrespect others because of the lack of certain things. It requires that I have the same kind of gracious response to the well-dressed person in Wal-Mart as I have for the person holding the sign asking for a donation at the light as I drive out of the parking lot. leave Wal-Mart.
That kind of acceptance of people does not necessitate approval of their choices. Some lifestyles may be contrary to clear biblical and moral absolutes. Communicating that kind of acceptance while withholding approval is a tightrope walk you will face frequently. It will require wisdom every step along the way. It is a fine line with a potentially dangerous abyss on either side.
God, give me wisdom as I walk in faith in those relationships today!