James 2:2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;
Yesterday morning a brother and sister came to visit during the morning Church service. She wore a beautiful white dress, while he had a Bob Marley shirt on. I happen to know that they are a poor family and he is the only boy (sure the dress had been worn by her older sisters) but it was still hard to keep my mind from making generalizations as he walked in.
Even more dangerous is the fact that my mind started placing both of them in categories (kinds of people) based on what they were wearing.
That girl is wearing a pretty white dress…we won’t have any trouble with her
Is he wearing a Bob Marley shirt? Better keep an eye on that one!
The thing is I know that boy very well
- He comes by my house every day begging to hear a Bible story (preferably about David)
- He was incredibly excited about being at Church yesterday, and gave me no trouble at all
- Greets me every time they walk by my house
- Is literally starving for the love or attention of others
- And has an honest desire to learn more about God
The New Testament Church in Jerusalem was struggling with the tendency to categorize people based on their outer appearance which eventually affected the way they treated those individuals (James 2:3). In this case a rich man with great power or honor was contrasted with a poor man who had no power whatsoever. The division may have gone something like this.
The rich man:
- A man who deserves honor from us
- A man who can help us in some way/has something we need
- A man who deserves to have a position of authority
The poor man:
- A man who is going to dishonor us by his presence
- A man who can’t help at all, and will probably want things from us
- A man who should be kept as far away from people as possible
The danger with this of course is a person is much more than the outer clothing.
That little boy probably wore the best shirt he had/or favorite shirt to Church because he knew it was an important occasion
He will keep coming with his sister every week to learn more about God
And visits the Pastor’s (my) house every chance he can get to hear Bible stories about David
Would I rather he wear something other than a Bob Marley t-shirt to Church? Yes of course. But the important thing isn’t what this boy wears, the important thing is the condition of his heart.