old-city-bartering-in-jerusalem-john-rizzutoYes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law. James 2:8-9

On a trip to Israel with pastors, we went to a market in Jerusalem to purchase some gifts. To get the best deals we were instructed to barter for the best price. I wanted to buy an olive wood carved Chess set. The other guys I was standing with made their purchases and moved on. I gave one more offer to the Palestinian seller. Unbeknownst to me for a few seconds, my last offer insulted him . Then he spoke, “You Americans insult me. You think you can do whatever you want.” I sensed his anger and apologized. I offered to pay the higher price. Now he refused to sell it. I could feel the tension continue to rise. I went down an alley to catch up with my group. He followed me sitll ranting and raving down into the alley. I paused and looked back at his fist raised in the air and insults continuing. Then I realized we were in the alley alone. For a brief moment, I felt the weight of the Palestinian- Jew conflict and the hatred many feel about Americans. God let me experience the ugliness of prejudice, hatred, and favoritism. Praying for the peace of Jerusalem was now forever marked into my spirit at a completely different level.

James calls the church out for its adherence to a practice of prejudice. He uses the term favoritism to show how the church was preferring rich over the poor.  His writings still apply to much of our experiences today.

The root of prejudice is to “pre-judge”. Through a bad experience or partial information, we internalize a thought about the other person or group of people. We think the experience gives us a right to impose our view upon a whole group of people. “I’ll never go back to that store, look how I was treated..it’s because they…”

James let’s the Law of Love stand on its own. Love your neighbor as yourself. James says that this should include everyone, not just those you want to have as favorites. Love constantly knocks on the walls that we have established as barriers of separation. Love is not a reservoir to nourish your own soul, but it is a river bringing living water to all who cross its path. Love flows over your walls and connects you to those you would not normally “hang out” with. Love goes and spends the day with Zacchaeus who was nobody else’s favorite. Love is always moving forward to refresh those who are weary. Love has no favorites.

We all have prejudice or favorites. Allow the love of God to reveal the walls. The next step is where the rubber meets the road. Once favoritism is revealed, will you allow “love” to begin to operate? Or will you sweep your prejudice back under the rug waiting for it to be revealed on another day? Let love ask the questions, let your obedience take the next step. Others need to experience the love of Christ. His heart in you and through you is on full display. How would your “un-favorite” rate the love of Christ as exemplified in and by you?

May you be abundantly blessed today in God’s love that can’t help but splash over onto those to whom you come in contact.

Blessings Love y’all