Occupy my Heart

This afternoon I shared a devotional with the community of faculty and staff at George Fox. Here is the text:

James 2:1-13

It seems like the whole world, or at least 99% of it has recently been attempting to preach a sermon from this passage in James. Partiality is real in the world. This is, among other things, a reason for the many occupy movements happening across the US. Watching these movements from a distance it is easy to have an opinion about them – and some of us feel more strongly than others about what these groups are nonviolently protesting.

But I imagine for most of us it feels fairly distant. Some of us might wonder if the protest is something Jesus would get behind, or if it is just something being fueled by the very thing it is protesting. And some of us have no idea what it is.

Whatever our opinion might be about the occupy movement, none of us can afford to ignore what is at the root of these protests – a people who feel overlooked, neglected, left behind or devalued by someone else.

This is what James is writing about in the beginning of chapter 2. There is inherent in you and I the ability to judge others.

We do it often. And it comes fairly easily to us.

In an academic community the way we judge others might be talked about in terms of:

–       Letters after one’s name

–       Books or articles published

–       Students served

–       Attendance at programs

–       National recognition

But it might also take other more discreet or personal forms:

–       Feeling like you could do better than that person

–       Believing your ideas make the most sense

–       A belief that no one values the work you are doing

–       A belief that your work is more important than the work someone else is doing

And many, many more.

James states that the opposite of judgment, of partiality is unconditional love. But the premise of unconditional love is much easier than the actual practice of it.

Let’s ask the Spirit to teach us what it means to be a community who is practicing unconditional love rather than favoritism. Instead of occupying a space of land to protest favoritism, let’s occupy our hearts with a mercy that triumphs over judgment.

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