The Touchdown Dance with the Fist Pumps

I noticed some interesting connections this morning in James 2. Believers are told not to have faith in Jesus in a way that displayed “respect of persons” (v. 1). The meaning of this is illustrated by the scenario he sets for us. If some resplendent rich guy comes into your church, a potential big tither, and some other guy in vile and filthy clothes comes in, to discriminate between the two in how you seat them is described as being “partial in yourselves” and is to become “judges of evil thoughts” (v. 5). He then points out that rich people persecute the church more than poor people do (vv. 5-7).

When he starts talking about the royal law of Scripture, he is not changing the subject (v. 8). He says that if you have “respect of persons” then that is to commit sin, and it is to commit sin in such a way as to be convicted “as transgressors” (v. 9).

When he goes on to talk about adultery and murder, he is again not changing the subject. He is illustrating his point, which is that the law is all of a piece. It is a plate glass window, not a series of little French panes. If you refrain from adultery, but you murder somebody, then you are a transgressor of the law (v. 11). His conclusion is that we are to speak and act (in the seating of visitors at church) as those who will be judged by the law of liberty (v. 12), which is the same as the royal law mentioned in the previous sentences — the second greatest commandment, where we are told to love our neighbor as ourselves.

The conclusion is that if someone has shown no mercy (to the guy in filthy clothes), that particular church usher will receive judgment without mercy — as a breaker of the entire law. He is a transgressor of the whole law, just as if he had committed adultery or murder. But the merciful church usher rejoices against such petty judgments, and vaunts over them. He seats the stinky homeless guy in the second row from the front, where the pastor will be able to smell him, and returns to the foyer before he does his touchdown dance, the one with the fist pumps.



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