James: In Kindness

“My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.”

James 2:1

Over the past 10 years I have slowly begun to recognize the social and economic barriers that I have built up in my own mind. They are being gradually dismantled by the grace of God and the power of His Holy Spirit as I let go of what I consciously and unconsciously view as normal, beautiful and worthy.

Ten years ago I read The Great War for Civilization by Robert Fisk, a Middle East war correspondent for The Independent. In this tome of wartime recollections, Fisk, a Westerner, recounts the heartrending stories of civilians caught in the maelstrom of extreme violence. His firsthand accounts are brutally violent and no detail is spared. There were times when I had to put down the book and weep for children I did not know, and mothers and fathers I’ve never met.

Just about nine years ago our beautiful girl, Ella, was born and we entered the unknown. You see, Ella has Down Syndrome. I still remember the incredible feeling of fear washing over us as we contemplated what life would hold. We tried grasping around for any firm footing that would help us stand amidst the onslaught of uncertainties. We needn’t have worried. What God had in store for us was a blessed reordering of our priorities. Ella’s beauty and light shone on the darkness of our fears, forcing us to slow down and consider that the way of God in our world is renewal, not instant perfection.

The poor, the freaks, the weirdos, the foreigners, those who don’t fit into our idea of what is comfortable or the same. We call them “others” by our very unconscious shrinking away from their touch, their company, if they even make it into our congregations. But James has harsh words for us to mull over.

“For judgement is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgement.”

James 2:13

Kindness, the love of Christ, the bounty and blessing of God, begins by association and works both ways. If we don’t physically associate with the poor, the lonely, the oppressed or ostracized, we will never know him or her.

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