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Favoritism is an Open Window

 

James 2:1-13

· James,Bias,Prejudice,Segregation,Messages

The conversation that lead to this message:

Today we move into chapter 2

Favoritism

On your announcement card is a quick FAVORITES list

I am going to give you about 90 seconds to fill in your favorites and then we will have a dialogue question out of this….

TEN FAVORITES

Go quickly - you only have about 9 seconds per favoitie

  1. Favorite color
  2. Favorite movie

  3. Favorite book

  4. Favorite actor or actress

  5. Favorite podcast

  6. Favorite holiday

  7. Favorite icecream

  8. Favorite candy

  9. Favorite Restaurant

  10. Favorite song

Favorites

  • Define us

  • Explain us

  • Focus us

  • Guide us

But they also can

  • Confuse us

  • Divide us

  • Distract us

  • Mislead us

So a question...

When are favorites a good thing and when are they a bad thing? Examples and why.

James 2:1

1 My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism.

James draws a picture of the issue with a simple illustration - parable

James 2:2-4

2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

James 2:4 (Message Version)

4 haven’t you segregated God’s children and proved that you are judges who can’t be trusted?

I think we all have a lot to share and I think we could really benefit from listening…

I am going to ask two questions without any further explanation….

(remember last week - quick to listen - slow to speak - slow to become angry)

I will give you time to dig deeply into this...

If prejudice is widely embraced as being bad, why does it still exist?

One more question that I will not give any preface, but invite you to dig deeply into

What are the personal, relational, communal and faith costs to prejudice?

Let’s process James question

James 2:4 (Message Version)

4 haven’t you segregated God’s children and proved that you are judges who can’t be trusted?

I love that I am not dumping this on us, but that we are dialoguing and processing this

BEING TOLD…. Doesn’t work that great…

Processing and CHOOSING… opens the door to potential change!!!

We have already talked about:

If prejudice is widely embraced as being bad, why does it still exist?
What are the personal, relational, communal and faith costs to prejudice?

And now:

Why do you think James lumps discrimination and not being trustworthy together?
 

Why do you think James lumps segregating and evil thoughts together?

It is important to remember that James was addressing a very prejudiced age…

People were very partial, filled with prejudice and hatred based on class, ethnicity, nationality, and religious background.

In the ancient world people were routinely and permanently categorized because they were Jew or Gentile, slave or free, rich or poor, Greek or barbarian, or whatever.

This was a method of self preservation, identifying as a group is safe

But Jesus stood in stark contrast to this worldview

  1. Jesus connected with the Samaritan woman (John 4)
  2. Jesus recognized and marveled at the faith of the Centurion man (Matthew 8)
  3. Jesus didn’t ascribe a man’s blindness to personal or generational failing (John 9)
  4. Jesus touched people with leprosy (Luke 5)
  5. Jesus values children (Luke 18)
  6. Jesus offers salvation to the criminal on the cross (Luke 23)
     

But this was not just a Jesus thing

It wasn’t just a James thing

This is a theme in scripture……

  • Deuteronomy 10:14-19 (God shows no partiality)
  • 1 Samuel 16:7 (God looks at the heart)
  • Matthew 5:43-48 (Love your enemy)
  • Acts 10:34-38 (God shows no favoritism)
  • Ephesians 2:11-22 (No longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens)
  • Acts 10:9-48 (Story about Peter seeing that God shows no favoritism)

The people that James was addressing knew of Jesus’ teachings

They knew the picking and choosing of righteous acts didn’t work

Jesus said in the sermon on the mount…

If you hate - it is like you murdered
If you lust - it is like you committed adultery

And here - the people were cool with not murdering….

They were cool with not committing adultery…

BUT JUDGING….. SEGREGATING…. PREJUDICE………

They clung TO IT STILL

James says FAVORITISM and LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOR DON’T MIX

James 2:8-10 (MESSAGE VERSION)
8-10 You do well when you complete the Royal Rule of the Scriptures: “Love others as you love yourself.” But if you play up to these so-called important people, you go against the Rule and stand convicted by it. You can’t pick and choose in these things, specializing in keeping one or two things in God’s law and ignoring others

I think we often see prejudice as something that is chosen, and we automatically we assume we don’t have prejudice, because there’s no way we would choose to hate someone or choose to show favoritism.

To show us how easy it is to have biases without “trying”, we’re going to do a little exercise called the “circle of trust”.

On your table in front of you grab your announcement card. You’ll see the column on the left titled “Trusted 10”. In that column, list 6-10 people in your life that you trust the most. We’ll give you 30 seconds to do that.

Once you’re done, you’ll see each of the different columns:

  1. Gender
  2. Age
  3. Nationality
  4. Education
  5. Professional background
  6. Faith/religion

For each of your trusted 10, mark next to them if you share the same for each given characteristic.
 

What stands out to you about your results?

Prejudice isn’t usually a choice; rather, it is a thought process or way of thinking that can lead to a choice.

Most of us have some kind of prejudice in one way or another, it’s just that a lot of what we hold as prejudice is relatively socially acceptable.

One definition of prejudice is “preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.”

Most of the time prejudice is based on our own misunderstanding and ignorance, willful or otherwise.

Our job is to find out where our prejudice lies, where we are ignorant, and to figure out why it’s there and to find the information that will help us shift away from it.

Process this
 

How does prejudice short circuit loving our neighbors?

Our recurring final processing question…..

How are James words nudging you?

We have talked about several things today

We have talked through several things today

DON’T FORGET OUR EARLIER CONVERSATIONS:

  1. Our conversation about when favorites are good and when they are bad
  2. If prejudice is widely embraced as being bad, why does it still exist?
  3. What are the personal, relational, communal and faith costs to prejudice?
  4. Why do you think James lumps discrimination and not being trustworthy together?
  5. How does prejudice short circuit loving our neighbors?

Now
 

How are James words moving you today? What do you need to focus on? What are your next steps?

Take It Deeper Questions:

  1. Read James 2:1-13
  2. For what event would you consider buying the most expensive seats? Why?
  3. In what ways have you had favorites with people/relationships? In what ways have those been good/bad?
  4. How does favoritism impact loving our neighbors. Living out “Local, Early and Together?”
  5. How are you challenged and/or encouraged by James’ words in this portion of the text?

Bible Reading Plan - September 9-15

  • 9-9 - James 2:1-13
  • 9-10 - Proverbs 13
  • 9-11 - Proverbs 14
  • 9-12 - Proverbs 15
  • 9-13 - Proverbs 16
  • 9-14 - Proverbs 17
  • 9-15 - Proverbs 18
     
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