Last March, I was approached by Pastor Caleb and Pastor Chuck about the possibility of me moving into a new position here at the church. The new position as the Community Center Director would entail me moving into an outreach position here in Holly. In the new position, I would be running our clothing closet and food pantry, along with the goal of reaching into the community loving and helping them in any way possible. Simply put, it is meeting not only the spiritual needs of the community, but the physical needs first.
What are some of the physical needs that our communities face?
Why is it important to meet the physical needs of a community before their spiritual ones?
The book of James is a hard book for me to read. Often, when I go back and reread passages, it can be a big slap in the face! However, I love the hard hitting truths and James’ approach to how we, as followers of Christ, ought to live our lives. In James 2, James writes about being partial in our interactions with others.
What does it mean to be partial?
Have you ever experienced someone being partial against you?
Can you recount a time in your life where you have been susceptible to this?
James 2:1-4 says, “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?” In this passage, James establishes for us what it means to be partial, and how a simple act of partiality, can quickly escalate to judgment. In the culture we live in, it is easy to fall into this snare of judgment. However, James sets the record and makes it clear about the distinction in God’s eyes. In James 2:5 he writes, “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 those who love him?”
Who has God chosen to be heirs of the kingdom?
What has God promised to those who love Him?
James takes it a step further and reminds the people of the Law, which was established thousands of years before Christ came and before James was even born! In James 2:8 he says, “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well.”
What passage of the Old Testament is James referring to here?
Who is your neighbor?
Growing up in church, I have always heard this saying which James writes and which Jesus often spoke. It was not until I began my position as Community Center Director that this passage truly came to life. Daily, we get calls from people asking for help in some capacity. Calls range from the shut-ins who have no way to make it out to the center for food, the grandma whose grandkids are getting caught up with the wrong crowd and she is in need of prayer, or the single mom who simply needs help moving some furniture. In all of these things, we as a church are given the opportunity to meet the needs of our neighbors here in our community.
Now, James has just established for us what we ought to do as followers of Christ, what distinction our Heavenly Father sees, and has given us scriptural backing for who we are supposed to love and reach. However, James also gives us the flip side to all of this, for those who still show partiality. In James 2:9-10, James warns us of the outcome for showing partiality, “But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.”
What are you convicted by when showing partiality?
How much of the Law are we supposed to strive to uphold, as a follower of Christ?
So, what does this all mean in light of Reach? As a church and as followers of Christ, outreach is an essential part of our walk with Him. If we are all honest, none of us would be here today as followers of Christ, unless someone reached into our lives with the love of Christ. For me, that person was Tyler. Not a day goes by that I am not thankful for God using Tyler in my life. Tyler reached into my life, without partiality, to challenge me and ask if I truly understood who Christ was. Since that day, I now understand what the love of Christ is and what it means to not show partiality.
Who reached into your life?
Whose life do you need to reach into, without partiality?As you continue with your week, I want to leave you with this challenge. Think of that person who you have been trying to reach or you know needs to be reached and start praying for them every day. Pray every day that God would give you the opportunity to reach into their lives in some capacity. Maybe it is by helping them move, by taking them out to eat, or visiting a loved one of theirs in the hospital. Pray for an opportunity. The Gospel of Christ is the most precious gift we have ever received. Therefore, as we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, how can we not do all we can to reach those in need with His love and His amazing Gospel?