Welcoming Everyone

William C. Brownson

READ : James 2:1-7

Don’t ever attempt, my brothers, to combine snobbery with faith in our Lord Jesus Christ! (v. 2, Phillips)

Think about the sin of snobbery. It’s a peculiar trait. We readily recognize it in others, but rarely in ourselves.

What is a snob? Dictionaries define it like this: “Someone who by his conduct makes evident that he sets too much store by rank, wealth and social eminence.” Did you get that? We show by the way we live that we are overly impressed by the riches, position, and prestige of others.

Snobbery is ugly anywhere, but especially so in the church. Here’s a well-dressed, handsome couple with two well-behaved children, visiting your congregation for the first time. What an enthusiastic welcome they get! On another aisle is a single mom with ill-fitting clothes. She and her four children are obviously from the ranks of the poor. How warmly are they greeted? Who invites them home for dinner?

James calls that kind of unequal treatment “respect of persons” or, literally, “receiving of the face.” The reason it is so inappropriate and shameful in the church is that we profess to be followers of Jesus, whose heart went out to all kinds of people. James is outraged by such partiality: “Don’t ever attempt to combine snobbery with faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” The two can’t mix.

PRAYER

Lord, help us to see people through the “magic eyes” of your welcoming love.