There’s an old joke about a poor man who enters a church seeking the Lord only to be rebuffed by those inside. On his way out he meets the Lord, and Jesus asks him what happened. The man explains that they wouldn’t let him in.
Jesus replies, “I understand completely. I’ve been trying to get into that church for years. They won’t let me in either.”
According to Scripture, Jesus did not fit the Hollywood stereotype. Isaiah said of Jesus, He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering (Isaiah 53:2-3).
He was a working man with calloused hands, born in a stable, a country bumpkin from Galilee. He had no letters after his name. He didn’t start a business. His family thought he was crazy. He was a vagrant (Matthew 8:20). If we judged Jesus by his outward appearance, social status and career success, we would be likely to overlook him or think he was a loser.
Judging by external appearance is at the heart of James 2:1-13. But James is not concerned with whether we are nice to people or not.
James is raising a more profound question: how are you looking at the world? Does the gospel change your thinking or not? Are your actions consistent with the what you say you believe? James is concerned that we see and understand how the gospel changes our thinking and our lives and that the claims of the gospel make a difference in the way we act, and the attitudes we have.
Discussion Questions – James 2:1-13
- How do you define favoritism? What causes it? What prevents it?
- What does James mean in 2:4 “judges with evil thoughts”? How would such a person act?
- Why do you think favoritism is inappropriate among believers?
- Do you see the problem James describes in this section in your church? If so, how?
- Other than wealth, on what basis do we show partiality and/or make distinctions in the church?