“My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.” James 2:1
How do you think Jesus would be dressed if he came into church this Sabbath?
We have a tendency to estimate whether or not a person ought to be taken seriously, spiritually, by their outward appearance. But consider this: Jesus came to his teaching and healing ministry from a working class background. He was a carpenter. On top of that he was poor. By poor I mean that, like most manual laborers, the work of that day’s labor provided the income that would purchase the food for the next day. It was almost literally a hand to mouth existence.
Most people in his circumstance possessed one outfit of clothes and that was what they worked, played, slept, and worshipped in. If they did possess two outfits they were usually of the same quality with one being newer and in better condition than the other. They might reserve the newer outfit for more formal occasions like feasts, celebrations and worship but eventually when their work clothes wore out that “good” outfit would become their work clothes.
So Jesus if he were to come into our church, if he came from a working class background similar to the one he was born into two thousand years ago, would probably walk through the doors dressed as we would expect a clean and respectable carpenter to be dressed on a work day.
Now here’s the real question. Dressed like that, would we take him seriously? Would we recognize in him the quality of spiritual depth he actually possessed and give him the attention that spiritual depth deserves?
We do tend to be partial in our estimation of one another. James’ call to us is that we would extend to one another the highest level of respect and consideration regardless of appearance.
It may be that God will communicate his presence to us in the most unlikely of forms. Jesus came in an appearance the Jewish elite did not expect, but appearances didn’t change the fact that he was was God the Son incarnate.
You never know, the homeless man walking into your church might be an angel in disguise or that naive, sickly looking young woman might have just been chosen by God to communicate his messages of counsel and guidance to his church. Our God is known for doing things differently than we might expect. Because of that, it’s not just unloving, it’s dangerous to show partiality in church.