Judges With Evil Thoughts
October 25, 2009
INTRODUCTION: James is telling us that no "social register" mentality ought to be found in the church. The problem in James' time was that God's word did not triumph over culture. That was also the problem in the 18th and 19th Century church we have described. Likewise, in today's culture, when the poor/uneducated and the rich are not welcomed with equal enthusiasm, it is precisely because the Bible has not triumphed over our culture.
James' word pictures, church history, and our own experiences chronicle the inconsistent tendency of vibrant Christianity to become discriminatory and given to favoritism. Money and economics are the principal mediums for discrimination. Christians tend to listen more intently to the prosperous man, to defer to his wisdom, and to place him in positions of leadership.
Because the 18th Century Church of England had become so elitist and inhospitable to the common man, in 1739 John Wesley had to take to graveyards and fields to preach the gospel. A hundred years later, Methodist William Booth noticed that the poorest and most degraded were never in church.
"Richard Collier in his history of the Salvation Army, The General Next to God, describes Booth's experience:
"Those who made part of Broad Street congregation never forgot that electric Sunday in 1846: the gas jets, dancing on whitewashed wall, the minister, the Rev. Samuel Dunn, seated comfortably on his red plush throne, a concord of voices swelling into the evening's fourth hymn:
Foul I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.
The chapel's outer door suddenly shattered open, engulfing a white scarf of fog. In its wake came a shuffling shabby contingent of men and women, wilting nervously under the stony stares of mill-manager, shop-keepers and their well-dressed wives. In their rear, afire with zeal, marched ‘Wilful Will Booth,' cannily blocking the efforts of the more reluc ...
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