"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?"
I submit for your consideration the story of the Lost Son from Luke 15:
"11And he said, There was a man who had two sons.
12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me. And he divided his property between them.
13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living.
14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need.
15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs.
16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
17 “But when he came to himself, he said, How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger!
18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.
19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.
20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
21 And the son said to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.
22 But the father said to his servants, Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.
23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate.
24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to celebrate.
25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.
26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant.
27 And he said to him, Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.
28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him,
29 but he answered his father, Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends.
30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!
31 And he said to him, Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.
32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found."
Now clearly the father in the story was a wealthy man. He had robes and rings and everything this world can offer. When the Lost Son comes home he is no doubt wearing rags. The Faithful Son has remained at home dressed as he always was: in the garb of a wealthy heir. How does the Father pull these two ends together? He treats the two identically. The son wearing rags is no less a son to him than the one wearing finery. The son who had squandered his Dad's money; who had consorted with prostitutes; who had become a drunk and a rake is considered no less of a son than the other. And take note of how the press and most of the public are treating Gov. Spitzer of New York. I have yet to hear one voice suggest coming alongside this man to offer grace, counsel, and love as an alternative to political execution. If I had any power over the process he's now going through, I think I might try that route first.
Our sonship is not dependent on our behavior. It is creational. it is incarnational. The agape love God has for us does not "come upon us". It is eternal. It is created in us before the foundation of the world. This is designed to prevent exactly the situation James highlights in vs 2-4. If we would offer agape love to one another we would see that the situation I happen to be in in life has nothing to do with you receiving me into the fellowship because God has already declared his profound love and acceptance of me.
Wait a second. I hear a knock at the door.
Never mind. It was just one of those horrible beggars.
Pastoral Relief and Retreat
- Wethersfield, CT, United States
- I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.