• Michael T. Christensen

A Quick Bible Lesson from James 2, aka "Rich People are Bad"

The week after our wedding, my wife and I took a trip up north to San Jose, where my parents live. My sister, her husband, and my godparents were all still in town longer than we expected, so we got to spend about four days with them after the wedding, which was pretty nice.

Anyway, when we went to church on Sunday, this scripture passage was the lesson. I want to talk a bit about it, but let me include it in full first:

James 2: 1-10; 14-17

My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, "Have a seat here, please," while to the one who is poor you say, "Stand there," or, "Sit at my feet," have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be right in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you? You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill," and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead."

There's a lot here, of course, and I'm not well-versed (pun intended) in the study of scripture, but the core message here seems pretty clear - the rich are not your friends, and how you treat other people matters.

This came just days after Texas passed their horrible new law about abortions, and I was particularly glad to see that the message at church that week was "don't be a jerk, and rich people are bad." Sometimes it's nice to have that reminder that other people throughout history have suffered a lot of the same problems as us.

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