Archives

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)

 

 

 

Advertisements

A MATTER OF “JOINT” INTEREST

Xray

I woke up a few months ago with pain that felt like I was being stabbed in my shoulders and left wrist. It was joint pain like I’d never felt before.

When it continued for more than a week, I got myself to a doctor, who then prescribed some meds and a week of physical therapy.

Still hurts, though. I have a feeling it may take some time to heal if I take care of it, but I don’t have any guarantees that it will completely go away. I’m reminded of my condition every time I reach for something or move my hand at a wrong angle.

I’ve also noticed something else as time went on. I found myself subconsciously avoiding any type of movement that would cause the pain. It’s as if my body has been conditioned not to move in certain ways. Sometimes my back aches because it has to compensate for the weakness in my shoulders.

I’ve noticed that it’s affected my mood. I like to exercise, but I haven’t felt like it lately. This lingering pest of pain made me cranky and annoyed.

It occurred to me that it really is true what they say: When one part of your body hurts, the rest of the body is affected. For example, have you ever had a bad headache? Do you remember how hard is was to do much more than take a Tylenol and disappear into a dark room somewhere? Or think of how much a simple toothache can be miserable. If a tooth hurts, it may be hard to eat. If you don’t eat, you get weak. Think about emotional hardship. Anxiety can bring about a lot of physical reactions, like high blood pressure or insomnia.

The Apostle Paul made reference to the dynamics of the church in this way. He used the analogy of a physical body when he described how we should care for one another.

He said, “…there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (1 Corinth. 12:25-26)

In other words, He described how we should be so bonded in unity with one another that when one person is hurting, we all feel that pain.

In much the same way, if someone, or a part of the church is honored, then we should all share in that joy as if it happened to us personally.

I know that if my joints recover fully, I’ll grab a tennis racquet and jump for joy. What if my feet said, “Nah, I’m not gonna play. I really don’t care about how well the shoulders are now. We’re so far apart I don’t ever see them.”

But just like the old song about one bone being connected to the other, we are all connected with each other because we are all in the same body. We have a tendon, see to stay together (Pun intended, LOL).

And may I add that we are connected to Christ, who is the head. He leads, He governs, He guides with His mind and Spirit within us.

And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy” (Col. 1:18)

Have you ever had an injury or illness in a small part of your body that made a big impact on your life?

Have you seen one person’s pain effectively consoled because others in the body of Christ took it upon themselves to nurture and heal?