Christianity 201

October 11, 2020

Not What is “Fair” But What is “Right”

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:34 pm
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There is no partiality with God.” (Romans 2:11)

When I go back to writers we’ve used before, I can always tell by what I wrote in the introduction whether a blogger we discovered particularly impressed me. To return to find they stopped writing always drives me to find “just one more” article that I can share here. This is from Annie Birkelo at the blog Eyes Wide Open and is the final article which appeared in March, 2018. It’s longer than the excerpt here so I encourage you to click the title which follows now and read it in full on her site.


“Fair is not always equal ~ Equal is not always Fair.” This came out of my mouth on practically a weekly basis when I was raising my children. I find these days, as I go through hard situations with other adults, this is something I think, and sometimes, even say, far more frequently than I did back then.

We are raised these days to think that everyone is entitled. We are conditioned to think that everyone should get the same things, and if we aren’t, that something is wrong. But the thing about it is ~ life is conditional. People are in different places, walking out different circumstances, and need different things when it comes to what is best for them. And if you look at the Bible as a whole, this is how Jesus healed, taught, and walked.

Jesus was a rebel in His day. He still is! But not for the sake of being one – and not because He is on a rampage to show how great He is ~ calling everybody out and putting everyone in their place was not the motivation, although that had to happen in order to stand for what is right in God’s eyes. He was and is seen as a rebel simply because doing things the way that God intends is ALWAYS going to buck the system of man. Period.

Like so many others, there is another verse in the Bible that I find keeps getting twisted, used, distorted, for selfish gain. “There is no partiality with God.” (Romans 2:11)  In this section of scripture, we are told that no matter who we are, Jew or Gentile, God will not consider that which is outward when He makes his final judgements. Our outward appearance won’t matter. Our cultural or religious advantages, titles, and other things -not gonna help us out a whole lot. None of the outward things will give us a leg up when it comes to how God sees us.

God looks for what we do with what we know in our hearts to be true about Him. He looks on the inside. And He even goes beyond OUR hearts, and looks for whether we have accepted Christ Jesus into our hearts as Savior and Lord.  It may not seem “fair”, but we are all given a choice – in that way, it really is. We often tend to forget about that fact.

In this way, there will be a division – make no mistake about it, friends. Some will choose not to accept Jesus and the salvation He has freely offered us and rely solely upon their own good deeds or outward appearance and take their chances. Some will go through the motions, looking all bright and shiny on the outside, but not giving a hoot about what is there on the inside. Regardless, we stand no chance if we don’t accept Christ as our Savior so we can be seen as spotless in the eyes of the Lord.

And as we walk this earth, if we are true followers after Christ, we are going to have to become rebels too. The hard part is to do this when it is appropriate, without tossing the rest of scripture out the window, without sinning as we do what is right, and relying upon Him for help, rather than ourselves. God help us all.

So. We are to do what is right, and that doesn’t always seem “fair.” We are to stand for Jesus, and that can seem unbalanced at times (not equal). In some ways, the concept of fairness and equality can often seem evil to me now – it’s become so distorted.

I know this, because as a young child, living in the flesh and totally self-centered, I found myself always saying “that’s not fair” when I didn’t get what I wanted. Now, I find myself saying “that doesn’t seem RIGHT” a lot more.

Go ahead – don’t be afraid of the crashing judgment people will bring down upon your head for doing it.  Just say it with me: “That doesn’t seem RIGHT.” …

continue reading as Jesus applies this to the woman caught in John 8

September 9, 2015

Favoritism in the Church

Playing Favorites in the Church. A Reflection on James 2:1-17

by Clarke Dixon

img 090915My wife and I had not been to Canada’s Wonderland [theme park similar to Six Flags in U.S.] in fifteen years. We decided to go now that the boys are old enough, and while I still feel young enough, to appreciate roller coasters. Some things have not changed in fifteen years. Like the fact the old-style wooden roller coasters are still the most frightening. I think the color has finally returned to my knuckles. But some things have changed. Like the fact there are now two line-ups at each ride. We always stood in the first line up. And having stood we shuffled along and continued standing and stood some more and shuffled along some more in that same line up. The people in the second line-up did not stand long enough to do any shuffling for they were ushered onto the rides pronto. How did these people get to ride so quickly? What made the difference in wait times? Money. If you were willing to pay extra, you could buy a card that got you past the line-ups. Standing and shuffling along as we were I had plenty of time to think upon my upcoming sermon from James chapter 2.

1 My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? 2 For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, 3 and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while to the one who is poor you say, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,” 4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. (James 2:1-6a)

I must admit to being a wee bit annoyed at experiencing a system that favors the rich. But then, we could afford to be there in the first place whereas many Canadians cannot. Canada’s Wonderland is not a wonderland for all Canadians. But then again there are many beyond Canada’s shores who would give anything and are in fact risking everything to get to Canada. All of Canada is a wonderland for many poor souls in our world. How rich we are! And how life and society sometimes seems to favor the rich. James knew this was normal in the society of his day, and yet it was not to be normal in the Church. In Christ there is to be a new normal where the old norms of favoring the rich and powerful to the poor and easily-forgettable are to be replaced by impartial love. There are some things to notice here in James chapter two:

If you are a follower of Jesus you will not cater to the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor. I like how the NRSV translation of verse one puts it as a rather pointed question: “My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ?” (James 2:1 emphasis mine) In other words, by showing favoritism you are calling into doubt your knowledge of Christ. Verses fourteen and following revisit this idea of your life in the world being evidence of your life in Christ: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you?” (James 2:14) James is calling upon us to back up our claims to be Christ followers with true Christian community which does not favor the rich and powerful.

God sets the example of not catering to the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor. God does not cater to the rich and powerful: “Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him?” (James 2:5) The Old Testament points to God’s impartial love in His choice of Israel to be His covenant people through whom He would launch His plan of redemption for the world. He could have chosen a rich people, a numerous people, a powerful people. Instead he chose slaves. Likewise God could have chosen the rich and powerful to be central to His revelation of Himself through Jesus. Instead Jesus was born to Joseph and Mary. Shepherds were invited to that scene, not the rich and powerful. And Jesus does not cater to the rich and powerful, but to anyone who needed His healing touch. Salvation is offered to all.

We are lawbreaking sinners when cater to the rich and powerful:

8 You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 9 But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. (James 2:8-9)

Some might say “yes, but it is not that great a sin, and everyone is doing it.” James therefore lets us know that to commit any sin is a serious thing:

For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11 For the one who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:10-13)

We might be tempted to think we are really good Christian people because we are not guilty of some of the “biggie” sins like murder or adultery. But even a subtle attitude change between the rich and the poor shows that we have some ways to go in Christian maturity.

Concluding Thoughts:

  • We want to watch our attitudes toward the rich and poor. We may be playing favourites without really being aware that we are. So we should give some time to reflecting whether this may be a sin in our lives or in the life of our church family. Love requires thought in addition to thoughtfulness.
  • Having clout in the community does not mean that one should have clout in the Church. Influence in the world may be evidence of great leadership skills, but that in itself is not evidence of Christian maturity required for Christian leadership. I wonder how often we pass by God’s influence on one in favoring the influence of an uninfluenced other.
  • We may let the Lord’s Table remind us that, as one person put it: “the foot of the cross is level ground.” Whether rich or poor we share in communion together. We are reminded in the open invitation that God shows no partiality. Additionally, some might think we are being lazy by passing the elements around rather than getting up and going to the front. This is actually symbolic for us in that we serve each other. As the bread and cups are being distributed people are serving one another without making distinctions. The rich serve the poor, the poor serve the rich.
  • God has blessings in store for the poor:

20 Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. (Luke 6:20-21)

  • In storing up blessing for the poor God is not playing favorites, for we are all poor and in need of His grace and mercy:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3)

All Scripture references are taken from the NRSV

Click the title above to read the post at source. Clarke Dixon is a pastor in Canada and is our regular Wednesday contributor.

Click here to hear some of his columns as sermon podcasts.