“One of the worst moments was on Easter morning many years ago. . . . Clearly the place was already packed. . . . I turned round and saw a man I knew a bit, a very senior and distinguished person in the city. I was flattered to be recognized and singled out. . . . ‘Come with me: he said conspiratorially. He led me forward, past the queue, to one of the ushers. ‘I am Lord Smith: he said to the man . . . . ‘I would be grateful if you could find my friend and myself somewhere to sit.’ Before I had time to think, the two of us were escorted right to the front of the church, where we were given excellent seats . . . . But I didn’t enjoy it. I was thinking of James chapter 2, and wondering if either my acquaintance or the usher had read it recently. . . .the whole passage simply rules out any question of pulling social rank in church. This is part of what James means at the end of the previous chapter by not letting the world leave its dirty smudge on you. The world is always assessing people, sizing them up, putting them down, establishing a pecking order. And God, who sees and loves all alike, wants the church to reflect that generous, universal love in how it behaves. In some parts of the early church they had a rule . . . that if a stranger came in, particularly a poor stranger, the bishop himself would leave his chair and go to the door to welcome the newcomer. I have often wished I had the courage to do that.” N. T. Wright
“Did God not choose the poor of this world
to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised
to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man.”
Moving From Head to Heart
*Is there a “privilege pecking order” at work in your church? Are you a victim of it? . . . its perpetrator?
*How does status or lack of status affect your church experience?
*Can you determine to show “preferential treatment” to those at the bottom of the pecking order? Can you work to “see”, speak to, and include such persons?
*What grade does your church receive when it comes to honoring all comers equally? . . . with the same access? . . . the same affection? Do you need to find a new church?
God, I confess my part in this eternal problem. May real change begin with me.
For More: The Early Christian Letters for Everyone by N. T. Wright
Thanks for reading my blog! Please extend my reach by reposting on your social media platforms. If you like these topics and this approach, you’ll like my book Wisdom From the Margins.