God's eclectic table

James 2 begins like this:

1My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. 2Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," 4have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

I was reading this today with friends here at King's Harbor, and I was trying to form a picture in my head of what James didn't want and what he did want. He didn't want to see church looking like a typical ancient dinner party, in which people were seated in order of social prominence. Important/rich people at the front, unimportant/poor people in the back -- or maybe outside the door.

What would James want a church gathering to look like? We would walk in and find intermingled with no order at all: the rich and the poor, the young and the old, the women and the men, the people of this color and that color. We would find those struggling with secret and forbidden sins alongside the purest, most saintly lovers of God.

This is a whole different kind of dinner party! It is God's table. When James talks about church meetings, he is also talking about gathering at the Lord's table for Communion. It strikes me that James' ideal picture of an intermingled group is exactly what happens every time we celebrate Communion. No matter who we are in the world's eyes or even our own eyes, we are all completely equal with each other when we partake of the body and blood of Christ. This is the glory of God's eclectic table.

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