A Different Look

May 16, 2003 12:09 PM EDT

James 2:1-9 (NRSV)

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 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? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?

You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

Jesus said, "Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father."

- Matthew 18:10-11 (NRSV)

WAITING in line at an amusement park, I found myself mentally judging some of the young people around me. Several young men and women were marked with tattoos of various shapes and sizes on their bodies. Others had jewelry dangling from piercings in their face and body. Some had both.

To me, an adult in my forties, these young people seemed so different, so odd, that it was easy to look down on them. Then I was brought up short by a thought I try to remember whenever I'm feeling superior: God created each person, and God loves him or her as much as me.

Despite how easy it is to feel superior or inferior to others because of how they look, what they wear, or where they live, nothing makes anyone inherently better than anyone else in God's eyes. This would include age, wealth, social standing, skin color, fame -- even the number or lack of tattoos and body piercings.

God created each of us to be unique, and each of us is called to be in relationship with God. How we Christians treat those who are different from us will have a significant impact on how others respond to that call.

Prayer: Creator God, open our hearts and minds so that we may see others as you do, as your beloved children. Amen.


God calls us to love those we want to judge.


Those unaware of their prejudice

By Daryl Knauer, Kentucky