Where Everybody Matters
Rubel Shelly   -  



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Text for This Study: James 2:1-13

1. Every act of kindness one human being shows to another is evidence of our “likeness to God” breaking through. Can you recall a situation from personal experience or a neighbor-to-neighbor story from the past week where someone reached across a barrier (of race, wealth, etc.) to exhibit neighborly love?

2. What James calls “the royal law” (v.8) is what we also refer to as the Golden Rule. See Matt 7:12. Negatively, this rule of Christian behavior forbids favoritism and discrimination. What is the specific situation James envisions to illustrate his point? Why would this have been a special temptation to first-century Christians generally? To James’ original readers in particular? See 1 Cor 1:26.

3. What did Jesus mean by his statement at John 7:24? Are all “judgments” wrongheaded and evil? What are some of the judgments Christians are obligated to make? See Gal 5:19-21; Matt 12:34; 1 Cor 15:33.

4. What are some of the barrier lines that continue to separate people from one another in our fallen world? Which ones cause you the greatest concern? Greatest personal challenge?

5. This section of text claims that favoritism proves one has missed the central point of Christian ethical teaching – every human being bears the image of God and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. What are the implications of vs.12-13 for this important moral insight? How does the Parable of the Unmerciful servant drive home the same point? See Matt 18:21-35 (esp.32-34).

Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (New York: Little, Brown, and Co., 2005) explores some of the ways we judge people by first impressions and externals. Gladwell claims we make many of our decisions about others almost instantly and – in the language of his subtitle – “without thinking.” The video tells the story of John Barrier going into a bank in dirty work clothes and being offended at the way he was treated. Have you ever witnessed a similar event? Have you experienced anything similar? Have you ever been guilty of judging someone too quickly?