Sep 11

Monday Cry Out – Favorites

As parents and friends, we try real hard not to show favorites to our children and friends respectively. Because we know what happens when we choose favorites. Jealousy ensues. Anger erupts. Families and friendships fractured. It’s just not pretty.

Christians have the same concerns in their lives and ministry. James even warns us, and forbids favortism, in his letter. He states this, “But if you show favortism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.” (James 2:9). He said this after giving an example of a rich man and a poor man walking in a meeting, possibly in a synagogue or home church setting. He posed a question of treating the rich man well and letting him sit in a chair and making a poor man sit on the floor. Looking at that example, we as Christians would never even think of doing something like. Would we?

However, I have seen things like this occur. It may not have been as obvious or blatant as the example described by James in James 2:1-4, but I’ve seen it. In fact, I’ve been guilty of it myself. You know. Those moments of when we pretend to not see the poor man on the street corner. Or when we are approached in church to help lead a small group, Sunday School class or to help out with another ministry and we gently decline, possibly even saying “I don’t really feel God leading me to do this.”

Ever said that before? I have. And to be honest: it’s a pitiful excuse.

The fact is, it’s really easy to minister to people in the same socio-economic tier as we are in. If you’re a middle-class family, living in the suburbs with 2.5 kids, then you’ll likely find it easier to minister to the same type family, and that is fine. Great, even! However, does that dismiss us from the opportunities to aid and minister to others from a different background and lifestyle? The answer is a resounding “No”.

[pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]Let us be willing to step outside our “easy zone” and reach out to those in need, or to seize the opportunity to help someone in need.[/pullquote]I think we’ve all been there, haven’t we? We’ve come into church, we’ve gotten our children off to their classes and we’re really looking forward to taking our familiar place in the sanctuary to listen to another Sunday sermon when we’re approached by the sweet lady that oversees the ministry handling the downtown soup kitchen. You know exactly what’s on her mind and you begin developing excuses and an exit strategy. Then the moment hits and she’s standing before asking, “Would you be willing to help out for an hour this week to serve at the soup kitchen?” You know the soup kitchen is a great ministry provided by your church, serving the poor and addicted a much needed daily meal, but your mind is racing. Any excuse you come up with sounds lame as you try to look anywhere by into the eyes of the sweet little lady. And since every excuse you have sounds lame, you resort to the fallback response: “Ma’am, I’m sorry, but I just don’t feel led to help out down there.” Wow. Did we just try to blame God for the reason we didn’t want to do his work?

As I recall, though, I believe that God did lead us there. In the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus commands us to go to all nations. Not the ones that made us comfortable or the ones we would enjoy hanging out with. But toall nations. In the Book of Luke, Jesus even asks the question, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them.” (Luke 6:32) Jesus is hitting on the same issue, it’s easy for us to help those we love and know we’ll be loved back. It’s the other portion of the world that it is hard for us to break out of our shell and show love and compassion to.

And what better example of someone not showing favortism than Jesus himself. Son of God, sat at the right hand of the throne in HEAVEN, and he willingly came to Earth to be ridiculed, beaten and thrust on a cross to die. Why? Because he loved us. And for whom did he do this for? For all. Not for the middle-class. Not for the rich. Not just for the poor. He did it for everyone. And his life on Earth showed that, too. We find him hanging out with people from all walks of life. He went to the terminally ill, to the mentally ill, the demon possessed, the prostitutes, the liars, the thieves, the rich, the poor, the Jews and the Gentiles. He went to them ALL!

Let us be willing to step outside our “easy zone” and reach out to those in need, or to seize the opportunity to help someone in need. Don’t read into this and think that I’m saying we all need to go find a ministry to get involved in today. That’s not the point I’m reaching for at all. My point is that we stop showing favortism towards those we show love, grace and mercy to. That if we are presented with an opportunity to help in church that instead of blaming God for why we can’t get involved that we simply tell the truth in that we don’t have time or just don’t want to help at this time. It’s okay to say those things if they are true. Hopefully we can get past favortism and love everyone around us, despite their background or upbringing. God died for all, Jesus came to serve all and we should be willing to serve all, too.

Father, forgive us of those times we’ve shown favortism. Forgive us for laying the blame on you for us not getting involved. You’ve given us opportunities to be made known in the lives of unbelievers, the people who so desperately need you, and we have dropped the ball. Father, I think you for those that did not do this, though. Thank you for their faith and their diligence and their willingness to break free of their comfy lifestyle. Help those of us that struggle with this issue to begin to break free and to seize opportunities to share your love and grace with those who need it when they are presented. Lord I love you and in your name I pray, Amen.