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? James 2:1-7
For four weeks in May, Chris and I led a college/young adult Bible study in our home called The Gospel-Centered Life. The study led to the above passage. One of our college students had a lot to share about what God is teaching him on the topic.
Chris and I have known Barker Howard for about a year. We made our first connection over our shared love for Widespread Panic. Barker is a much more dedicated fan, possibly because everything he does is enveloped with passion. He wrestles with truth, and his love and concern for people is abounding. I asked Barker to contribute what God is teaching him about favoritism:
"In my first year at Ole Miss I saw many ways of favoritism that I hadn't been used to seeing before. My eyes were opened to ways of favoritism that I hadn't really thought about before. One of the biggest ways favoritism is shown at Ole Miss is through the Greek life. People often try to find their identity with what fraternity or sorority they are in, and while going Greek can be good in some ways, it can also be a slippery slope if you aren't focused on following God while you are a member of a Greek organization. It is sometimes a trend for people to look down on others, judge others, or even make fun of others because of what Greek group they are either in or aren't in. God really put it on my heart this year to not conform to that and to look at others and love them the same no matter what "group" they fall in. I feel led to be an example to my fraternity brothers to not judge others or look at some differently just because they aren't in a fraternity. In the long run it means nothing which Greek organization I or anyone else was or wasn't involved with and God loves them the same as He loves me so why should I do differently and not love them the same? My experience has also opened my eyes to the need to stand up for and reach out to those who aren't Greek. For the most part at Ole Miss these people are normally looked down on, and I feel it on my heart to try to reach out to them and show them that I'm not any different, better, or cooler than they are because I am Greek. Once again, at the end of the day God created them and loves them just like He loves me. This year I have learned the importance of standing up against showing favoritism, and how to approach doing that in the setting I am in, or what that "looks like" at Ole Miss. God has put it on my heart to make a difference in the way students show favoritism at my university, and I trust that He will be faithful to bless that. I look forward to getting back in the fall and applying things I have learned this year to help me love others as Christ loved us, without showing favoritism."
Showing partiality is a sin condition of the heart that we need God to change within us. We love to see college students with that desire for change. Barker is a millennial, who is different from previous generations -- they want to see change and want to do something about it. "At 78 million strong, the Millennials - those born between 1980 and 2000 - have surpassed Baby Boomers as the larger and more influential generation in the United States." This is a fascinating generation. "To better understand these men and women personally, professionally, and spiritually," check out The Millennials.