Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Two Supposes

In the second chapter of his epistle to dispersed believers, James writes of two hypothecials.  Both 'supposes' deal with how we treat the poor among us.  Both deal with the issue of what real faith should look like.  

The first 'suppose' is (my paraphrase): "Suppose two people come into your fellowship.  One dude is a celebrity- a sports hero whom everyone recognizes - wearing the nicest suit imaginable and a huge championship ring.  The other is a homeless Hispanic man wearing what really can't be called clothes, reeking of urine.  You usher the rich man to the best seat and the host acknowledges his presence.  You say to the smelly guy, 'we have a place for you way up in the balcony'.  Suppose this happens... well what you have done is shown preferential treatment to one and dishonored a brother.  Your faith ain't worth jack."  

James points out its actually the down and out, the desperate, the poor that God first chose to believe.   No one had to point out their desperation and need for a Savior.  The rich?  You'd have more luck sewing a camel's hair coat without removing the hair first - just poking that two-humped sucker through a tiny needle.  

The 2nd suppose is suppose a brother or sister is hungry and in need of clothing and instead of meeting those needs you callously reply, "God bless you brother. Be clothed in Christ! Jesus fills you up!"  James says this 'Jesus talk' without 'Jesus action' is also worthless.  And he goes on to give examples from scripture that real faith is always followed by real action.

This chapter makes me wonder... do I really love my neighbor?  Where do I find myself showing favoritism?  Do I just love my own?  Big whoopty do!  That doesn't take faith - anybody can do that.  The real test of faith is loving those not like me.  Do I feed and clothe my own kids?  That's noble but evil daddy's can do that.    But the real test of faith is not whether I give just some lame Jesus talk... but does my heart move toward those in desperate need.  That real faith.  There's real evidence that I am a follower of Christ.  That's the way God's heart moves.

Oh and here's another gut check... do I think ministry to the rich and powerful, the influential is more important than caring for the needs of the poor?  Do I think that one is really a distraction and the real ministry lies elsewhere?  If so I am  therefore no different than the priest and Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan who pass by the wounded man because more important God business lay elsewhere.   Perhaps for the priest & Levite, the God-work the needed to get down the road for paid better or looked better on stats sheet.   Or maybe it just wasn't messy or dangerous.

In that passage in Luke 10, we see that e' life is found in living out two things  - Love God and Loving Others.  (Not to mention the extent of both - with whole heart and as I love myself.) Suppose, I say I do the former and yet pick and choose to whom I do the later?  If so, I am a liar.  I am not really experiencing the Kingdom of God.  I am a hypocrite.

Just suppose...


orangejack said...

Well blogged. I like how you put it.

Anonymous said...

You used the phrase "Big Whoopty-do". I think my friends and I used to say something similar in like the fourth grade. -your wife, robin