My grandma was always looking for Jesus in the most unlikely people, and bringing them home to love. One time she invited to Sunday dinner a particularly unpleasant woman, at least she seemed so to my teenaged eyes (teens can be so cruel!). She was overweight, unattractive, poorly dressed, not even really clean as I recall. Her voice was annoying, her manner was annoying, and because of her visit, I was not with my friends.
I tried to be polite, but I guess something else was written on my face because later on, Grandma called me on it. “Well – I’m sorry – but WHY do we have to spend time with people like her? She’s weird! I’m sorry, but I just don’t like her!” I blurted out.
Grandma looked at me a minute, and then she said something that cut to my heart: “Sarah, God has lots of funny children.”
My grandma knew that woman wasn’t pleasant, but to her that wasn’t the point at all. This was one of God’s children, and the fact that she was poor and ugly and strange was all the more reason to reach out to her. I found out later just how poor she was, with no family, and heavy burdens to bear. I felt so ashamed. Grandma had reached out to show her God’s love and I had wanted to shun her.
“God has lots of funny children.”
I have never forgotten that. When we make distinctions among people based on external factors, James says, we “become judges with evil thoughts.” In a way, we are “blaspheming the honorable name” of Christ the way James said the rich did – “blaspheming” meaning to speak evil of God or sacred things. We are forgetting that Christ is in that person, and that we share in the same body. In Christ, we cannot show partiality – or we are not truly holding the faith of Christ.
It’s another good verse to memorize:
“Show no partiality as you hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory” (Jas. 2:1).
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Read my other posts on James here (the links will become live as they are posted):
- “Count it All Joy” (1:2)
- “Mirror, mirror” (or, what it means to be a doer; 1:22-25) – on the Bible Study for Catholics blog
- When the Rubber Meets the Road (1:26)
- Patience vs. Grumbling (5:9)
Study James: Pearls of Wise Living in your home group or parish.