Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Nov- 15- Treat Everyone Equally
November 3 2009 by John Pond, Director of Missions, West Chowan Baptist Association

Focal Passage: James 2:1-13 

Jewish theologian Martin Buber wrote a book of autobiographical fragments entitled Meetings. In this collection of brief memories/meditations, he shares about his early childhood, and especially about the complete disappearance of his mother when around three years of age.  Without a word one morning she was gone. Nothing was ever said by his father or his grandparents with whom he was sent to live the remainder of his childhood.

This “unspoken” experience followed him the rest of his life. As a result, he created a word which he defined as “mismeeting” or “miscounter:” the failure of a real meeting between individuals. For Buber, the most important reality of living was what he called “meeting.” In another book, he says, “all real living is meeting.”

He writes, “When I meet a man, I am not concerned about his opinions. I am concerned about the man.” That is, what is important is the manner in which we meet others; the quality of each relationship. In his own words “I think no human being can give more than this: making life possible for the other, if only for a moment.”

A glaring problem had beset this community of faith: partiality. In Buber’s words, they had failed to meet, engage the other whom they have encountered, making true life possible (if only for a moment). Instead, they had focused their attention on the glamorous externals of worldly success rather than the internal simplicities of the heart and had neglected right actions and substituted spiritually right words.

The term that is used in the text “partiality or favoritism” actually means “to judge in respect to the outward circumstances of men/women and not to their intrinsic merits, and so preferring as more worthy, one who is rich high-born, or powerful, to another who is destitute of such gifts.”  

Thus, the gold-fingered man in brilliant clothing is embraced and honored while the shabby-clothed one is relegated to a place out of the way in the back or subjected to serving as footstools. They had forgotten a very important principle: a rule of the kingdom: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself!” That is, you are to love the other — any other irrespective of race, circumstances or religion with whom we live or whom we chance to meet. 

James implies that they thought that they were pretty good people. They obeyed the laws of God and because of certain who had joined their group they were reaping great financial benefits.  But James points out that actually by disregarding the kingdom law of love they had broken all the laws. Partiality bears only death and judgement. And what profit or advantage is that? (James 2:14).

11/3/2009 10:52:00 AM by John Pond, Director of Missions, West Chowan Baptist Association | with 0 comments

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