My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes in to your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, "Have a seat here, please" while to the one who is poor you say, "Stand there," or "Sit at my feet," have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?
As we travel the world, I have many opportunities to see how people treat one another. We are continually strangers in a strange land now, and it can be disconcerting at times. And yet, we move through the world with a large amount of privilege: we are white, middle class, able bodied, and a heterosexual couple. This privilege means that when we approach strangers to ask questions about the bus schedule or the nearest bathroom, we receive mostly friendly and helpful responses. For most of my life I have been on the positive receiving end of these distinctions that people make.
I've also seen the negative judgments that we make. I've seen the church people who want to close off part of the church when the food ministry is in the building so that "those people" don't use the nice new spaces. I've seen the warm welcome that someone who clearly has money gets, while the person who looks downtrodden gets politely ignored. I'm sure, when I'm not paying attention to myself and my actions, that I have been a participant in such judgement.
I'm also sure that it is not what Jesus wants us to do. Even those of us who call ourselves Christians fall prey to the easy way of the world when it comes to judgement - but Jesus calls us to something better. We are saved by our faith, not our works, but if we have no works, our faith is dead. As one of my favorite hymns says - "They shall know we are Christians by our love." Not by our judgement. Not by our hate. Not by our boycotts. By our love. Who will you love in the name of Jesus this week, and how will you show that love with your works?
Loving and Gracious God, the only one who can pass judgement, help me to show my faith through my works. Help me to show the world your love through me, so they will know who and whose I am. Amen.