While preparing for this weekend's services, I reread parts of Being the Body by Charles Colson and Ellen Vaughn. The following story closely mirrors James' teaching. Compare James 2:1-13 with their story and see what you think!
The late Max Cadenhead, when he was pastor of First Baptist Church in Naples, Florida, riveted his congregation one day with a bold confession.
"My message today is on the parable of the Good Samaritan," Max announced. "Let me start with an illustration.
"Remember last year when the Browns came forward to join the church?" he asked. Everyone nodded; the Browns were a very influential family. "Well, the same day a young man came forward and gave his life to Christ. I could tell he needed help." No one nodded; no one remembered.
"We worked with the Browns, got them onto committees. They've been wonderful folks," Cadenhead said to muffled amens. "The young man…well, we lost track.
"Until yesterday, that is, as I was preparing today's message on the Good Samaritan. I picked up the paper, and there was that young man's picture. He had shot and killed an elderly woman."
Chins dropped throughout the congregation, mine included, as the pastor continued. "I never followed up on that young man, so I'm the priest who saw the man in trouble and crossed to the other side of the road. I am a hypocrite." (Chuck Colson and Ellen Vaughn, Being the Body (Word, 2003) 333.
More of that kind of sober honesty in the church would be very healthy. For God's kingdom is just the opposite of ours. Some churches go after the rich or the influential, thinking if they can just bag this one or that one, they’ll have a real catch for the kingdom and their prestige will surely rise. Like the folks profiled by the apostle James, we offer our head tables to the wealthy and well-dressed and reserve the back seats for those we consider unimportant.