By Pastor Victor Kirk
“Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law” (James 2:8-9 NLT).
I have to admit to you that over the past week I have been conflicted, perplexed, and angry. With our television screens filled with pictures of rioting, looting, killing, and violence in various cities across our country and around the world, I could not help wondering where the Lord Jesus Christ was in all of that.
There may be some who share my feelings. Perhaps you as well are angry like me, but for different reasons.
What we see can taint our opinions and cause us to lose focus at the heart of what really matters. The efforts of good caring people who protest peacefully can be diluted and overlooked by the actions of others whose purpose is to do evil.
You see, it was Jesus who taught us that every person is a potential child of God. When He lived on earth, no one was His special pet because of riches or poverty. Rank and social distinction meant nothing to Him. It was for man, as man, that Christ cared and died.
James 2 teaches us that favoritism, partiality, and disrespect of persons is a sin against the very Law of God.
A well-known preacher said this: “The most frustrating ministry of today — to face teeming areas of people of different ethnic groups, living in substandard housing, many of them unemployed. Religious ideas have little meaning for most of them. Their lives are disorganized. The inner-city pastor faces all their frustrations and tries with compassion to enter into their problems. If we are going to touch the inner-city life of our communities, we must know their sorrows, their trials, their temptations, and we must stand with them in their heartbreaks. Jesus Christ entered into the arena of our troubles. He wept with those who wept and rejoiced with those who rejoiced. Anyone who cares enough to want to help people must somehow sit where they sit” (Billy Graham, 1967, during civil unrest in the United States).
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9 NKJV).
Victor Kirk is the pastor of Sharon Bible Fellowship Church in Lanham, Maryland, and he serves as the president of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware’s General Mission Board’s Administrative Committee.