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No Partiality

March 9, 2018

“My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory,” (James 2:1, ESV).

We are not to show partiality in any way as Christians. The context in James rebukes those who were treating rich people better than those that are poor. Certainly, there are times where Christians may do exactly what James says they should not do. They may treat the rich with favoritism and disregard or ignore the poor. This is certainly sinful behavior that must be rejected.

However, classist partiality can go multiple ways. While some Christians may sinfully favor the rich over the poor, it is becoming increasingly more popular in the church to think that it is spiritual to want to help the poor while rejecting the rich. You may hear some Christians speak in a condemning fashion about “those suburban Christians,” or they may even imply that the poor have some sort of special insight into the Bible because non-poor Christians apparently have never had any struggles. This type of partiality is just as sinful and ought to be rejected.

The Gospel of John ought to put away all classism in the Church. In John 4, Jesus speaks the truth to a Samaritan woman. In Jesus’ day, she would have been the epitome of the rejected demographic. Samaritans were considered an evil race by many Jewish people at this time. She was a woman, who would have experienced unfair prejudice. She was a social outcast, as seen by the timing of her seeking water from the well. Pretty much in any way that we categorize her, whether by her religion, her social class, her gender, or her ethnicity, she would have been considered marginalized. Jesus speaks His love and truth to her and calls her to faith in Himself. Christ is for those who society may reject, and Christians must ensure that they recognize this beautiful truth.

But a new problem of classism has arisen in the church due, not in part, to the new socio-political game being played in our culture. Now it is being considered spiritual and ethical to mock and disregard anyone who could be considered the accepted majority, under the guise of rejecting favoritism. However, in John 3, Jesus shares His truth with a Pharisee named Nicodemus. Here was a man; the favored gender in that culture. He was a Pharisee; he had a very powerful position and was influential. We learn that he had plenty of money and he was of the accepted race. Now, if you believe what many Christians are saying today, Christ should have thought that Nicodemus was more evil than anyone else in the world. He should have been told that he is the real problem with the world, and he should have been considered less important in the kingdom of God than the woman in John 4. But this is not what we find of Christ. Christ shares His love and His truth with this man too. Nicodemus is called into the kingdom with the same grace as the woman in John 4. There are no favored or unfavored classes in the mind of Christ.

Classism of all types is rejected by Scripture. As Paul said, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” (Gal. 3:28). It is sinful to look down at someone who is of a marginalized class. It is just as sinful to despise someone who is of a majority class. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Whether male or female, black or white, rich or poor, Republican or Democrat, socialist or capitalist, no one group is more evil and corrupt than the other, and to believe such is to reject the teachings of Scripture. What wonderful news is it then that, as John 3 and 4 show us, Christ is the Savior for people of all kinds (see also 1 Tim 2:1-7). We must reject all classism in the church. It has no place among the people of God. Do not be partial to the rich over the poor, and do not be partial to the poor over the rich. The Gospel is for people of all kinds, and we should be too.

May God grant us repentance and obedience in this area. May we learn how to not be classists in our extremely classist society. May we learn that simply trading one kind of classism for another is just as sinful. May God give us the grace to show mercy towards both John 3 and John 4 people, just like Christ did.

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