Thursday, April 23, 2015

James 2:8-9

God made mankind in His own image, and as image bearers, every individual should be treated with equal dignity. This thinking demonstrates itself naturally when in Scripture the example is given of someone taking the life of another person. In lacking respect for another, God demands that the offender be put to death. What is demanded is a life for a life. Furthering the command for respect, God established His law, displaying his desires for all of mankind and our interaction with one another. After establishing the prime law, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God,” God opened the broad gate of human respect and dignity when He commanded, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Attached to the dignity of each person is the God ordained command that every human being love every other person. Just as a life required a life, God’s love requires our love.
In modern American culture, we find terms like “Islamaphobia,” and “Homophobia,” and “racist,” and “sexist,” all of which indicate that at some level, there may not be a full obedience to the God-given command to love all others. The religion of Mohammed, Islam, is a dreadfully distorted one. The categorical misuse of women and the pragmatic perspectives of terroristic jihadists have led to a myriad of flagrant unloving atrocities in almost every country in South Asia and North Africa. The command of God is not to love Islam, it is instead to love Islamists or Muslims. Either they are made in the image of God and should be afforded the same love that God demands for everyone or they aren’t made in the image of God and should be talked about and joked about and judged as subhuman. The unmerited grace of God was poured out on me, God’s undeserving enemy. This unwarranted grace is the God-made pattern for my interaction with Islamists. Anything less than loving them is disobedience.
Similarly, in a whirlwind, our culture has spent a large measure of effort creating a cultural safe haven for those attracted to people of the same sex. Scripture makes it explicitly clear that God distinctly and perfectly made the human race as “male and female.” And, when we come to the New Testament we find that the Old Testament condemnation on sexual activity between any two people outside of the marriage of a man and a woman is reaffirmed. This condemnation of sinfulness does not negate the humanity of those who live with same-sex attraction. Sadly, many people (even ones who call themselves “Christian”) have resorted to using inflammatory, rude, crass, hateful, and ultimately disobedient-to-God, non-loving language and actions towards those who live this way. Instead of heeding the command to love, they instead relish in jokes and digs towards those of this persuasion.
In James 2:8, James says, “If you fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, you do well.” Many walk away from that verse imagining that they are incredibly kind, loving, gracious and obedient, and turn very shortly thereafter into mockery, ridicule and hateful vitriol towards those who are culturally different than they are. For this, James continues in verse 9, “But if you have respect to persons, you commit sin, and are convinced [convicted] of the law as transgressors.” Playing favorites, in the church or out of the church, is always sinful. Loving some but not all is always disobedient to God. It is a fine, but a clearly distinct line that must be drawn and held by those who call themselves Christian – while we must not accept the choices of everyone as good and right, we must love everyone with the undeserved and unmerited love that we received from God.

Food For Thought: Who do you find you don’t love as you should? Sometimes we couch our lack of love in a punch line and argue that we didn’t really mean it. All words are tattle-tales of the heart.