Needless to say, buying a new Bible was tough...but exciting at the same time. I knew the day was coming and had prepared myself well. I was actually excited about clean pages. Reading an unmarked Bible is like discovering God's truth for the very first time.
That being said, I have really been enjoying reading in my new Sword. And, this past week I decided that James and I, we would have been good friends. I love the book of James. So, when I read through it this past week for the umpteenth time, it was like meeting an old friend but seeing him with fresh eyes. James is practical. He is straightforward. He does not sugarcoat things. He is not afraid to be honest. He challenges. He goes against the crowd. He upsets the apple cart. He packs a powerful punch in 5 short chapters. Every time I read through the book of James, I come across something I missed the last time, or I had at least forgotten since the last time.
"My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others? For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, 'You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor'--well, doesn't this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives? Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn't God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren't they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom He promised to those who love him? But you dishonor the poor! Isn't it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court? Aren't they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name you bear?" James 2:2-7
I read this passage, and I had images of some beautiful, fun, dirty children pop into my mind. I spend my afternoons with them in the dirt. We sing songs. We play games. We throw balls. We use glue and markers. We jump rope. I have no doubt that the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. And, honestly, I have little problem with the poor and dirty of this world.
I have a far greater problem not making judgments about the fancy and rich. I am much more comfortable on the dusty streets of a poor farming village than I am in the midst of a banquet in a grand hall. Ask me not to judge the poor, and I will happily oblige. Ask me not to judge the wealthy, and I will bite my tongue and pray for God's mercy.
Now, I didn't actually know James, but I do wonder if he felt the same as me. He saw how the wealthy were treated in comparison to the poor. He saw that the poor were often marginalized, but I wonder if he himself had a greater challenge in not favoring the poor over the wealthy. I don't have the answer, but regardless, I am confident that James and I would have been good friends...