The rich and poor have this in common:
The Lord made them both. Â Â Â Proverbs 22:2 (NLT)
My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others? Â Â Â James 2:1 (NLT)
Lectionary texts: Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9. 22-23, Psalm 125, James 2:1-17, Mark 7:24-37
The topic of the lectionary texts this week is one that has me with the Holy Spirit and asking for His â€œscanâ€ over my heart. What do I really think and feel about people? Is what comes out of my mouth what I am really thinking and feeling? I do not want to be a â€œcloset bigotâ€.
My mother liked a clean and neat home. My bedroom did not always reflect that philosophy. My mother would frequently tell me on Saturday that I could not go out and play or go to events until my room was clean and neat. There were a few times when I succeeded in stuffing everything in my closet and quickly shutting the door. All looked neat when she checked the room. My closet was disgusting! That’s what I mean by a closet bigot. I can say all the right things, make nice with everyone, and yet in my heart, I am sarcastic and mean.
As I have moved among different fellowships I have learned a lot about the subtle ways I can send â€œwelcomeâ€ signals by my facial expression and body language as well as shunning someone. When I walk into a classroom or sanctuary, do I gravitate toward the homeless person on the back row or sit with my friends or chose to sit by myself? What heart message am I sending?
Matthew 15:21-28 tells the same story as Mark 7 and expands a bit more. First, Jesus acts like maybe I would: â€œYou aren’t like me. You don’t believe like I do. I will walk right past you and ignore your need.â€ Then He justifies His actions, like I do, by explaining His â€œholy missionâ€ to take care of God’s children. And He is deciding who is and isn’t God’s child. Is that my job? Finally, Jesus shows me that it isn’t about a person’s pedigree but about their need and faith. It may be a weak, tiny bit of faith but Jesus will respond. Do I have eyes to see and ears to hear a cry for help?
I have a friend who wrote a wonderful book that stepped all over my toes. It’s called Soup Kitchen for the Soul. She shares her experience as she, begrudgingly, began volunteering at a soup kitchen as part of a class requirement. She asks What if through out the book and I was remembering that as I read these Scriptures. What if I opened myself to moving into places outside my comfort zone? What if I got to know people who were â€œdifferentâ€ than my friends and family? What if I said â€œYesâ€ to opportunities that Jesus opened to me? What if that is where I would meet my Savior, up close and personal?
Healing Rain written by Martin Smith and Michael W. Smith