Thursday, March 19, 2015

Treating Others Like A People


“When I get to heaven I will be amazed at three things. First, those who are not there that I thought would be. Second, those who are there that I thought would not be. Third, that I am even there at all.” ~ John Newton

I grew up in the Fundamental Independent Baptist Church of the Deep South. I even went to a Fundamental Independent Baptist School. Every Friday we would have preacher boys come in and have chapel at our little school. These were mostly youth guys at their respective churches who aspired to have their own little fiefdom one day. Every Friday we had to endure Sermonettes from these Christianettes.......usually about the woes of cigarettes.

They were really into soul winning and these boys did not sin. We knew they didn’t sin because they told us they didn’t sin. They would call all the guys drunkards and all the girls whores and it was their great pleasure to inform us that we were all going straight to Hell. I have to say that, even though these guys didn’t sin anymore, they looked suspiciously arrogant to me.  Especially since they all wore a blue suit, white shirt, and red tie.

In Ecclesiastics 7: 20 Solomon opines that “there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin.” In James 2, the pragmatic James tells us that we should not be respecters of persons. I heard a story about a boy who walked for miles to get to church, passing by churches much closer to his house. When asked why he walked so far, the boy said, “They love a fella over there.” Another boy told his mom about how much he liked his new Sunday School teacher. She asked what made him better than the last teacher. The boy said, “He treats me like I’m a people.”

We may think of these as cute little stories, but would to God that more churches treated visitors like they were "a people." James says when someone visits the church we are not to “hold them up with partiality.” The Greek phrase there, Prosopolepsia, literally means to lay hands on someone’s face. In other words, don’t judge them on superficial, outward appearances. Don't just "lay hold of their face" and judge them on what they look like on the outside. The Message paraphrase puts it like this, "If a man enters your church wearing an expensive suit, and a street person wearing rags comes in right after him, and you say to the man in the suit, 'Sit here, sir; this is the best seat in the house!' and either ignore the street person or say, 'Better sit here in the back row,' haven't you segregated God's children and proved that you are judges who can't be trusted?"

Here’s an idea. Instead of judging people, let’s look to Jesus and make Him our standard. When we can measure up to that Man, then we can compare ourselves to other men. 

1 comment:

Patty Leigh said...

As always, beautifully written!