There are some scriptures which we so easily skim over, gleam some bit of feel-good fuel for the day and never go back to. I was thoroughly challenged last week when, reading through the book of James, I came across a sentence that I had read many times before but had never let the true gravity of what it meant to sink in.
The verse in question is James 3:17 – ‘But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere’
I was reading through these characteristics of true wisdom like a checklist. Pure? That’s the goal. Peace-loving? Absolutely. Considerate? I try my best. I got all the way down to impartial and stopped.
For some reason this one word was speaking more to me than it had ever done before. A brief definition for impartial is ‘treating all people and groups equally’. I wonder have we truly grasped what this actually means for the Church today? If we go back to James 3:17, we can see that the wisdom that this verse talks of is wisdom from heaven. Given that Heaven is God’s Kingdom, we can safely assume that this is the wisdom God utilises when he thinks about the world he created and every human being he breathed life in to.
God has always looked at his creation from a position of impartiality, that is, he has always thought of his creation as equal in his eyes, worthy of the same love, thought and care. In Jesus Christ coming to earth, we see God show impartiality on a scale never before seen in taking the sin of the entire human race, bearing it on his shoulders, and creating a bridge through which anyone, regardless of any facet of who they are or what they’ve done, can obtain forgiveness for sins, and restoration for their soul.
Do we really show the same impartiality as Christians today? It may be easy to say, but deep down, in our hearts, do we really believe that everyone is equally deserving of our prayer? Our time? Our evangelism? Our love?
I believe part of the reason we might find this difficult is because our culture is so used to taking sides on everything. In any debate in society on issues that are important, our human nature is seemingly to gravitate towards one side or the other, believing that our being part of a ‘side’ will give our viewpoint strength and credibility. The danger of the Church taking this approach in modern society is that we can fool ourselves into thinking that God works in the same way. We can trick ourselves into thinking that he has taken our side on the issues that concern us. The result is that we become unwilling or unable to relate to anything that falls on the ‘other side’ of what we believe.
I don’t believe this to be a healthy way of approaching engagement with our society. The truth is something much more humbling; that God has never taken a side, and has always remained impartial. He is not on our side, but through Jesus Christ, has given us grace to stand and speak the truth in love. This means that when everyone else is gravitating to one side or the other, we remain fixed in a position to minister to those on all sides of society, not just the ones we agree with. Our goal mustn’t be to support and strengthen one side, but to build bridges through which all sides can get to God.
Can I challenge you today to think about where you can show impartiality today? And for us, as a Church communally, what needs to change? When was the last time we prayed for our enemies? The last time we decided to pro-actively love and serve those who hate us? When do we create opportunities to be impartial in our sharing of the gospel and serve all those in society with a heart of unconditional love?
The life of Jesus on earth was one filled with a genuine, unconditional love for all in society, especially those who were so distant from what he knew to be the truth. I pray that we could model out this incredible grace to our society and world.