By JERRY BEAVERS
“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?” – James 2:1-4
One of the most disheartening emotions is to believe or “feel” that we’re not respected or valued. James makes it clear in his letter that to make such judgments based on appearance, social standing, or anything other than a person’s intrinsic value as an individual, is a sin. God’s commandment is to love Him without reservation and to love one another in a like manner.
There you have it, the solution for racism and a multitude of other social ills. Yet why do we find such simple solutions so hard to apply? It could be we’re so full of pride, selfishness and lust (James again, 2:13 – 4:2), that we’d rather search for more complicated solutions so we can feel justified in not dealing with the real issues.
I’m sure the people James was writing to were pricked by what he said. Apparently, they placed a great deal of value on wealth and position as to who was welcomed into their fellowship. Now there are honorable wealthy people who understand that their blessings come from God, but their acceptance should not be based on their wealth and position.
I believe our social struggle with racism reveals the same sin in our hearts. When we love and respect one another based on God’s criteria, we’ll find solutions to what seem to be unsolvable problems. Are we willing to trust God’s Word, obey what we know to be true, and enjoy love, harmony and peace, or are we going to insist on finding a more “suitable” remedy that doesn’t deal with our sin?
My wife and I have participated in Mission Mississippi activities over the years, and those we’ve found most rewarding are the opportunities to be “intentional” in our personal fellowship through meetings, meals, and best of all, visiting other churches for prayer. Even prayer by Zoom has been special. We’ve developed relationships with those who are different from us in color but pretty much the same in most every other way. Skin color is not one of God’s criteria for loving each other.
A Mission Mississippi goal for 2022 is to go “deeper” in practicing those things which are true and productive in our struggle with racism. So how do we go deeper? It must go beyond the theoretical and become active. I think the key word is “intentional,” which is central in Mission Mississippi’s message. To go deeper in experiencing the benefits of respect, we must deal with our hearts and show respect in our attitudes, our speech, and our sensitivity to others, along with an awareness of its value in specific situations. We know what respect is; if not, we surely know when we’re disrespected. Let’s be honest, let’s show some trust in our wise God, and let’s not make it complicated. #DeeperRespect
Jerry Beavers was a pastor of Koinonia Ministries for 30 years. He and his family moved to the Jackson area in 1981. He is married to the former Barbara Keil; they have four children and 10 grandchildren. They are members of Highlands Presbyterian Church in Ridgeland and are involved in a variety of ministry activities. Jerry and Barbara have been involved in Mission Mississippi since its inception and have been profoundly blessed by the relationships they’ve developed over the years