In Chapter 2 of the book of James, the author makes the argument that there is no partiality in the Kingdom of God or in Christ or in His Word. Therefore, the Kingdom people, followers of Christ who submit to the authority of God’s Word, should never show favoritism in the church.
This raises the question: what about those who are outside the church?
Well, we may want to answer this with another question: is our God impartial to everyone or only to those who are members of God’s household?
In John 3:16, we read, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (NLT).
A few observations:
- In our individualistic society, we turn the focus of God’s love onto us. In the past, I have encouraged people to replace “the world” in the verse with “me” to make it personal, but the original intent of the verse is for the whole world because God did not show favoritism. Christ died for all.
- Our social and cultural reality is extremely important in order to understand our role and place in this world. In John 17, Jesus admitted this reality and prayed for us in verses 16-17: “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world” (ESV).
So, what is our role and place in this world? Our role in this world is to be an ambassador, and our place in this world is temporary. We are sojourners in this foreign land. Thus, we, as followers of Jesus Christ, should never show favoritism in the church nor towards those who are outside the church.
- The Kingdom of God is God’s Kingdom, so it is up to Him whom he allows to enter into His kingdom. Through Christ we know that the invitation to inherit the Kingdom of God is for everybody, but not everyone is aware of this invitation. This is when we as the ambassadors of His kingdom must represent God’s Kingdom accurately and without favoritism. God has appointed the church to be Christ’s ambassadors. When an ambassador of the United States is sent to any foreign land, it is the job of the ambassador to represent our country, the president, and his administration accurately and without favoritism. In this world we are representing the King of the heavenly kingdom, so we have to be bold while at the same time being sensitive to the laws, traditions, and religious make up of this worldly kingdom that belongs to Satan (for now). We must always be loyal to our King Jesus.
As citizens of God’s kingdom and members of His body, we are to do the following:
- Be ambassadors to those who are not of the heavenly Kingdom. This means without assimilating to the host culture, traditions, and social structure, we represent the kingdom culture and values.
- We are sojourners in this world but we are not isolated from the world, so we must walk carefully in a society that does not have the same values as the heavenly Kingdom.
- While we live according the Word, we must introduce our values in such a manner that we are not seen as people who are trying to impose our truth on this world. Even the perception of this can turn people off. Therefore, our lived experiences have to bear the mark of our values and should be seen as desirable to the host culture so that the culture can make room for us.
- This may mean that we as members of another Kingdom have to tolerate certain behaviors in the host society. This is similar to being an ambassador from a foreign land and tolerating cultural behaviors in the assigned country that the ambassador does not prefer.
Church, we belong to the heavenly Kingdom, and we are called to represent our King Jesus in this world and to invite others to follow Him. So, what will it take for us to do that in our perspective neighborhoods? What is it that the Lord is calling you to do in this season to be His witnesses? Let’s pray and talk. I would love to hear from you. As always, I am available, please feel free to email me, or even contact me on Twitter, @dralfonsejaved.
To listen to a full-length sermon on this subject, please click here.