How to Kill Discrimination in Your Heart

Lew Gervais, in a devotional, asks us to imagine a scene unfold in a church:

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“Bill is wild haired; his wardrobe for college is jeans and a T-shirt with holes in it. He recently became a believer, a follower of Jesus, while attending a campus Bible study.

“Across from campus is a well-dressed, very conservative church. One Sunday Bill decides to go there. He walks in late and shoeless. The sanctuary is packed. Bill heads down the aisle looking for a seat. Having nearly reached the front, he realizes there are no empty seats, so he squats down on the carpet. The congregation is feeling uncomfortable.

“Then from the back of the church, a gray-haired elder in a three-piece suit starts walking toward Bill with a cane. The worshipers don't expect a man in his eighties to understand some college kid on the floor. With all eyes focused on the developing drama, the pastor is about to start his sermon, but he waits, wondering what the elder is going to do.”

Well, I’ll finish this exercise in imagination this weekend. I’ll tell you what he does. And what he does will be the beginning of a lesson on discrimination, the kind of discrimination that comes from prejudice. It’s what James 2 addresses, our text for this weekend.

I think it’s safe to say that most of us aspire to be non-discriminating. We aspire to care more about a person than about their outward appearance, their color, their ethnicity, the way they dress…all of that.

Yet we all discriminate and we play favorites. It’s usually done in subtle ways.

God wants to kill that impulse in us. And James shows how three big theological concepts—glory, kingdom, and love—have everyday, real world significance and can kill the impulse to discriminate.

We can be increasingly free to love and to see beyond outward appearances.

I hope to see you this weekend and maybe there’s someone you can invite who would resonate with this subject.

Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

Survey says...

Here’s the feedback on the sermons.

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Overwhelmingly, the focus on teaching, digging into, and applying the Bible is important to our congregation, and we are hitting the mark for the vast majority.

It was fun to get so many comments regarding the quality of our teaching team.

There seemed to me to be more comments than usual about the clarity and delivery of the sermons. That’s something we’ve really been working on, so I’m happy to see it.

One suggestion was made to read the whole passage at once without interruptions before digging in and reading smaller sections for exposition. I’m considering that one. I’ve felt the same way when listening to others on the team, like each time we try to clarify, we’re actually interrupting the flow of listening.

I couldn’t discern any patterns in the constructive criticism, but I think I was still able to profit from reflecting on the suggestions and critique.

Some people said we could give more practical, everyday application, but for every comment like that one, there were literally 10 that said we were hitting the mark. Even so, I’m always for drilling down better into everyday life, so I’ll try. And I’ll try to do it without taking away from biblical exposition.

One commenter said they found me confusing, but that the people in their family don’t agree so it must be about learning styles. Loved the self awareness on that.

A few asked for more exhortation and teaching on tough issues and lifestyle issues. One said that right when I start to get close to doing this, I end up skirting the issue or not going deep enough.

I think I’ve done a bit of that over the years, thinking there will be a better time to address those tough topics but rarely getting around to it. I think I’ve been diving into them more over the last few months, but we need much, much more.

And I’ve realized that while doing the Gospel Project has had many advantages, it has kept us out of some important passages and series we need to do. It tends to hit the highlights of the story of God, and sometimes we need to take a dive into something like the Sermon on the Mount or the lifestyle sections of Paul’s letters. So you can expect more of that when we finish up with the Gospel Project.

One more thing. So many of you included such kind, encouraging words to me and to our team that I felt super encouraged by you. Thank you so much!

Photo by Francisco Jesús Navarro Hernández on Unsplash