by Steve Wagers

The Facts About Favoritism
Steve Wagers
James 2:1-13

Joel Engel, a Los Angeles based writer, who writes frequently for the New York Times, tells of an experience he once had aboard a Los Angeles bus:

Considering the large crowd inside, the lack of voices startled me; only a rustle of newspapers and the groaning diesel engine broke the silence. Several well dressed men stood in the aisle, so I assumed all seats were taken. But, as I moved to the rear, I spotted an empty aisle seat on a double bench, and wondered, to myself, why it was unoccupied.

The young man next to the window was breathing heavily, his face was covered with what appeared to be fibroid tumors. His long, filthy, matted hair, and tattered clothing also made him unappealing. He was obviously homeless, and it was easy to guess why. He sat with shoulders hunched and eyes fixed through the window.

Nearly paralyzed by pity, I gave silent thanks that my young daughter wasn't with me, asking her inevitable questions about him in a none-too-discreet voice. But, it was because of her that I finally sat down. The kind of man I wanted my daughters' father to be sits in a bus next to someone whose only crime is extreme ugliness. I can't pretend that I relaxed. My left shoulder and arm scrunched involuntarily. He continued to stare out the window without acknowledging my presence.

The bus made one more stop before entering the freeway. Several people boarded. An elderly woman walked toward the rear. I waited for anyone else to offer her a seat. None did, so I stood and motioned to her. Suddenly I heard, "No, I don't want to sit there, next to him," she said with no concern for who might hear.

It is painful to hear this story. We are appalled at the insensitivity of the elderly woman. We can't believe that this would happen in this great country of ours. But, what if I told you, that it not only happens in our country, but, also, in a lot of our churches.

In fact, it was hap ...

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