DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGH: EIGHT QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK YOURSELF CONCERNING CHURCH FAVORITISM

I recently noticed a stone displayed on a coworker’s desk. it was a geode, which is a type of sedimentary or volcanic rock, usually rounded in shape:

Rocks - box

It brought back a long-forgotten memory of the first time I saw  this type of rock. It was many years ago in grade school, when a guest brought in a bag of them to show the class. He downplayed it pretty well. He took one out, saying, “What an ordinary rock. It’s grainy, rough, kinda like cement…who wants one?”

We went along with his assessment.

“Not me!”

“You sure you don’t want one? Don’t you think they’re pretty?”

“No way!”

Laughter ensued.

“Ok,” he said, “guess I’ll have to keep them all”.

With that, he began to cut one with a saw, saying he was just curious what it looked like on the inside.

Of course, you may know where this is going. A geode is a type of rock that has a hollow internal crevice lined with minerals. They are formed when air bubbles are trapped in volcanic rock. When rain falls on the bubble, the chemicals inside the volcanic rock are released, forming crystals inside the rock.

The results are beautiful:

Rock - small purple Rock - small gray Rock - large purple

 

What an unexpected contrast! Needless to say, we all wanted one after that.

Why am I sharing a children’s lesson? I believe it’s a message we have to keep learning, whether we’re 8 or 78 years old:

You can’t judge a book by its cover.

We see it every day in this world. People create a ranking system based on superficial criteria such as beauty, status, wardrobe, or prestige. I believe is all over our society due to evil pride, a constant desire to boost ourselves by looking down at others, not taking the time to see what may be on the inside.

It’s not easy to admit, but let’s face it. We see it in the church as well.

Yes, we as believers have the Spirit of God within us, and therefore we have the capacity to reflect God’s complete impartiality.

2 Chronicles 19:7 says, “There is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of persons.”

In other words, God does not show favoritism.

Yet without obedience to Him, we behave no better than anyone else. We aren’t showing God’s character when we seek out others based on what we see on the outside.

Apparently this was an issue in the early church as well. James (thought to be the brother of Christ) writes directly to the issue in his epistle:

My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? (James 2:1-4)

If we are one body in Christ, shouldn’t we reflect His character?

Here are a list of questions we must ask of our church, but more importantly, to honestly ask of ourselves:

  1. Do we (I) divide ourselves (myself) socially based on social status?
  2. Is my church diverse when it comes to race and background? Do I make a point to befriend members from all walks of life?
  3. Do we (I) sit myself apart from the outcast at the end of the pew?
  4. Who do we (I) talk to at the end of a service?
  5. Are there distinct cliques in my church? Am I a part of them?
  6. Does my church resemble a fashion show more than a church gathering at times? Who am I dressing for when I go to church?
  7. Do I or church leadership favor the popular over the not-so-popular for positions of service?
  8. Do the sermons at my church (more than anything else) focus on status and riches as indicators of God’s blessing? Do I often believe that favor is measured by wealth?

Friend, God is not interested in your beauty, your wardrobe, or your bank account, no matter how little or much you possess.  I believe there will come a day when the body of Christ will truly be united, whether it is through sanctification and/or necessity. May it be sooner rather than later.

“….man looks at the outside, yet God looks at the heart” (1 Samuel  16:7)

 

 

 

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