Across the Pastor’s Desk: Show love without any distinction
Published 8:00 pm Friday, September 3, 2021
Across the Pastor’s Desk by Don Rose
This week many will be either reading or hearing words from the Letter of James that discourages members of the Christian community from showing partiality or to discriminate between people based upon wealth. The writer of James says that all people, rich or poor, are of equal value and importance in the eyes of God, and as a result God’s followers must show love and respect for each without any distinction. In fact, many suggest that the writer of James has a sense that wealth is closely tied to the powers and the forces of this world and that faithful believers would follow the practice of the earliest church and use their wealth not for themselves but for those in need even as they enter the community of faith. Though it would appear that the writer’s point of view did not become the dominant belief within the community of faith, the words of warning remain as important today as they were centuries past.
All too often it is apparent that in the world, money talks. Wealth becomes the measure of worth and importance. As a result, those without financial resources become the voiceless ones, whose opinions and needs are often relegated to the back burner. Unfortunately there are all too many examples that would indicate that such values and behavior make their way into the church, the community of faith, as well. Someone who is perceived to be a person of wealth is assumed to be a greater authority on issues of faith than others who may not have such resources. Clearly the word of Scripture would be at odds with such behavior, but it becomes the norm because it works that way in the world.
This topic is but one illustration of the way in which the community of believers is called to be counter-cultural in its way of life and in its example as children of the kingdom are called to live with one another and to serve the world. The Letter of James contains many examples of what it means to have faith and to live that faith in real ways in the world. The writer makes it very clear that faith leads to a way of life filled with concern and service for those for whom the world does not value. While the world says “not in my back yard” to persons different or in need, believers seek opportunities to welcome and to become personally engaged in making life better for others.
Imagine a world in which the community of faith begins to actually be what it is called to be as a witness to God’s love and grace. The world would notice and be drawn to such a community of welcome, peace and safety. There are even in these times glimpses of such witness and for that God’s people give thanks and rejoice.
Don Rose is a pastor at Mansfield and United Lutheran churches.