My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?
– James 2:1 NLT
I sit here trying to write, not knowing even where to begin. It’s hard to write a short devotional on the pain and stronghold of prejudice in our hearts, homes, churches and communities. There really seems to be no way to share a few thoughts and wrap it up with a pretty bow. So I won’t.
Instead, I will go first.
I benefit from being white, American, and middle class. I rarely have to worry about being judged on my outward appearance. I have freedoms and privileges that many in our world will never know, simply because of how I look. I have judged harshly others who do not look or act like me. I sometimes sit quietly in the face of prejudice out of fear. I hold back my opinions and truth because I care more about pleasing the masses than I do advocating for the marginalized.
James gives a strong warning about prejudice, and he makes the bold declaration that Jesus came for the oppressed. He asserts that the Kingdom of God will be made up of the poor, the weak, and those cast aside. The same mercy that we pour out will be the measure of mercy that is bestowed on us.
That is a sobering thought.
If you’re paying attention at all, I don’t have to tell you our world is hurting. Our churches are divided and struggling to find their footing. And yet this scripture is so clear. Love people – all people – regardless of their economic status, race, skin color, preferences, or struggles.
Loving is not mere words. 1 John 3:18 says “Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and truth”. (NLT)
So love looks a lot like listening to the experiences of someone whose skin color is different than yours and laying down the right to interject your opinions.
Love looks like choosing to get involved in the lives of those who live differently than you across super tables and breaking bread together.
Love is assuming the best of people and seeing them as image bearers of a holy God.
Love involves preferring someone else over yourself.
Love say’s “I’ve been guilty of judging you and I’m sorry”.
Love makes room in our hearts, homes, and churches for everybody.