There is a very staunch and aggressive battle for the hearts and minds of the people in society. In today’s world, we often fight the battle of the “has” and the “has not’s”, do we not? We are “who we are” as a number, a social class, a race, or a creed. Our God given talents, attributes, traits, and preferences define us as a person. But what does that mean and who determines the “normal?”
While referring to an online dictionary, I viewed the definition of normal as “conforming to the standard or the common type”. i It would seem rational to assume that if you had rings around your neck to the point of stretching it, you would be a Padaung women from the Kayan tribe in Burma. Now bring this same woman to downtown Anytown, USA. Would she be accepted? How would our judgmental society see her?
If we are to serve in heaven, would it not be reasonable to say that we must practice here on earth first? We are all different people with various makeups. We are white. We are black. We are gay. We have an assortment of people with an assortment of ethnic backgrounds. We are poor and we are rich. In todays Old Testament reading, we find James, possibly the half brother of Jesus, showing us our patterns of favoritism and judgment.
“For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into 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?”ii
We are guilty of these things that James warns us about, period. Can we change our view and exclusively extend ourselves to our brothers and sisters… unconditionally? It seems that we may have an issue doing this. In the age of segregation, we shunned African Americans. In a post 9/11, era we look at Muslims with suspicions. Brown skin and a burka alarms us. Gays represent sex mongers and the homeless are lazy. James tells us, in the spirit of all that is Christian:
“For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.”iii
Can we walk a mile in someone else’s shoes or would we rather turn a blind eye? Can we have the faith that is required to “let go and let God”?
iiNew Revised Standard Version of the Bible: James 2, 2:2-2:4
iiiNew Revised Standard Version of the Bible: James 2, 2:13