My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?
If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. James 2:1-9
So, let’s make Donald Trump king. But seriously, I really think we have a problem with this in the church today. We equate physical wealth or success with character or the furthering of the kingdom. The lesson of Scripture is that there are two worlds operating simultaneously. There is the physical world here on earth, the day-to-day happenings. Then there is the spiritual reality, we see this when the curtain is pulled back in books like Revelation. Someone wins the lottery or gets a great job or has a billion dollar idea and the people on earth celebrate. When one sinner repents and follows Jesus, all of heaven celebrates. We need to allow Scripture to tune our perceptions, so that we are celebrating over the right things. This is the brilliant architecture of this world, good is never obvious. Reality is a test. A battle between the word of God, “Don’t eat of the tree.” and our perception “it was pleasant to the eyes.” We are never tricked into good. The Jews of the first century were having a hard time distinguishing military success from Kingdom-of-Heaven success. Today we have a hard time distinguishing business success from Kingdom-of-Heaven success.
James tells us not to give special treatment to someone rich who comes into the church, because that is our tendency, even as Christians. I’ve seen it happen many times. The Evangelical Church has become the Ad agency for the people of Christ. Most of the other important work of living out that faith, has been left up to the government. A small portion of that work is being taken back by parachurch organizations. Unfortunately, often these are run just like a business. And what better way to make your ministry prosper than by appointing wealthy people to your board, or maybe a successful contractor—right before your building project kick-off-drive-event-dinner-thing. I don’t think it applies only to monetary partiality, the same can apply to the beautiful girl put in charge of, like, something, or the guy with the most degrees from the best schools. This is not how it works in the Church.
“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” -I Corinthians 1:27-29
The kingdom of heaven makes no sense on this earth. It’s a barren woman. It’s a dead messiah. It’s a rabble that no CEO would put in charge of anything, but it now rules the world. It was a small segment of Jews who came out of a totally defeated Palestine, to conquer the Roman world, and most of the pagan world. I was made to think about Paul’s thorn in the flesh in a different way recently. Where do you get thorns? In your feet. And so you might limp. Which is the perfect description of the Church, we limp along, spreading the truth and exemplifying humanity before the world in awe, with all their splendor. It reminds you of Jacob wrestling with God, who afterwards always walked with a limp.
The work of Christ’s kingdom is hard. It doesn’t require money, it requires selfless sacrifice, exemplified and passed on. It requires faithfulness, that is believing God’s word over your senses, your worries and fears and all the noise from the world. It means trusting God each day instead of stockpiling mana so you can put your faith in your own accomplishment, your own bank account.
When God appoints people to positions in the New Earth, he doesn’t look at bank accounts. He looks at faithfulness. He looks at character. Did you take the gifts that you have; intellectual, monetary, cultural and use them for others? Or did you just try to accomplish things by the worlds standard? We can do the same in our evaluations, and we should want to as much as we can on this earth. “His will on earth as it is in heaven.” And so we should use Paul’s qualifications for Elders, when we appoint leaders. We should watch people in small matters and if they prove faithful, we should promote them. You don’t just send them to four years of school and then make them the pastor of a mega-church.
The roots of these problems, like many things, must be addressed with the next generations. Unfortunately this is where the problem is most accute. Academia is obsessed with money and vocational training, that is, getting more money. The Department of Education and the teacher’s unions take in and waste millions of dollars. They increasingly produce less and less character, as they wield more and more power. How will the next generation learn humble sacrifice when their teachers and administrators are always clambering for more titles and money? It’s sad to see Christian schools attempting to draw in more customers by bragging about thier buildings and ammenities, their wealth. The result will only be to perpetuate the centrality of those things in their community. We need to get back to the core of faith, scripture obeyed in every area of life. Regardless of how the world will look at you. The people may mock you and isolate you, but at some point when the cultural rot bears it’s fruit they will come running. It has happened many times before, but The Church will Limp to Victory.