Tuesday, August 9, 2011

No Favoritism

From the blog “Ministry Matters”:

“The American church has a “dirty little secret”: thousands of special needs families have been made to feel like Old Testament lepers—forbidden from entering the temple to worship God with their brethren.”

http://www.ministrymatters.com/all/article/entry/1415/welcoming-special-needs-families

welcome_matJames 2:1-4 (NLT) says, "My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others? For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?"

While this passage speaks about discriminating based upon appearances, it's an illustration about favoritism in general. I understand that the church mentioned in this article seeks "to offer a distraction free environment for all our guests," but at what expense? Rather than making this a church policy, churches should be be modeling the Biblical mandate of "no favoritism."

The church, after all, is the Body of Christ, and each person has a place, regardless of “ability.”  1 Corinthians 12 tells us that, not only can’t one part of the body tell another that they are not needed, “some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary.”  Jesus also spoke on the topic in His discourse on the final judgment in Matthew 25:31-46.

“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.  For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.  I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink?  Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing?  When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

Finally, I am reminded of Matthew 19:13-15:

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.

But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”  And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.

God does not show favoritism (Romans 2:11), but accepts all who come to Him equally.  Shouldn’t we, then, as the Body of Christ do likewise?