No Favouritism

07
Sep

A sermon preached on September 6, 2009 on James 2 and Mark 7 that bombed, proving you can’t script an amen chorus, which is by its very nature, unscripted.

It is a striking verse we heard this morning from the apostle James: “do you with your acts of favouritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? — that if we favor certain people; specifically, if we favor the rich, the powerful, the privileged, over people who are poor and powerless and underprivileged, that the very faith we profess to believe in the glorious Lord Jesus Christ is called into question. 

(Preach it brother Jeff.)

That if we do, in fact truly believe in the glorious Lord Jesus Christ, well then, we will not treat some people as less worthy because they are poor, powerless and underprivileged.

(No sir!)

That the Lord Jesus Christ has opened our eyes to the fact that all people are worthy of our attention,  because the Lord God made them all. 

(Amen.)

And Lord Jesus died for them all.

(Amen.)

And if we believe that some are more worthy of our attention than others, we demonstrate that we have forgotten in whom it is we trust.

(Amen.)

And it is not the almighty dollar.

(No sir.)

It is the Almighty God.  

(Amen.)

That is whom we are called to place our trust.  

(Amen.)

But you may be thinking, “Brother Jeff, don’t we all show favoritism, at least some of the time?”

(We were thinking that, Brother Jeff.)

As well you should, because we are frail, and sometimes our faith is weak, for it is not easy being a human being, and sometimes, yes, we do forget in whom we trust.

(That’s true, brother Jeff.  Amen.)

The Gospel story brother brother Bob read for us this morning  even suggests that Jesus himself —  Jesus the man who got tired, who at times felt absolutely drained and depleted, that this very Jesus wasn’t immune to having moments of favouritism; that in his fatigue he initially told this poor Gentile woman that she was not worthy of his attention; that she was, in fact, merely a dog.

But she wasn’t a dog was she?

(No she was not.  No sir!)

She was a child of God made in the image and likeness of God Almighty! Can I get an “Amen?!”

(Amen!)

And this woman’s little daughter, plagued by a dark demon, was a beloved child of God as well;  precious in the Lord’s sight.

(Amen!)

And she knew – in spite of all the world might tell her otherwise that God would hear her cry!

(Amen!  Yes He would!)

And although she wasn’t a dog, this woman was not too proud to beg.

(No sir!)

Because this woman knew that in relation to God we are all beggars!

(Yes we are!  Amen!)

And she wasn’t too proud to gather the crumbs of God’s grace wherever they are to be found.

(Amen!)

And because she trusted God and wasn’t too proud to gather crumbs, she discovered God in His glorious grace giving her not merely crumbs but rather the entire loaf instead.

(Amen!)

That her plate was full!

(Amen!)

Her cup running over!

(Amen!)

This woman cared not for riches,

(No she did not!)

But she did love her child, 

(Yes she did!)

And she was willing to do whatever needed to be done for that beloved child.

(Amen.)

And so St. James had it right when he asked us, “Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him?”

(Amen.)

For did not Jesus himself marvel at this poor woman’s humility, her perseverance, and indeed the richness of her faith?

(Yes he did.  Amen.)

And did not St. Paul have it right when he declared, “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God.”

For indeed, no one has any reason to boast in the presence of the Lord.  

(Amen.)

And so St. Mark goes on to tell us, that this same Jesus – his heart filled now to overflowing from his encounter with that wonderful woman of faith, came forth to begin once more his ministry, and the people brought to him another poor soul,  a beggar with an impediment of speech, and they begged Jesus to help him.

(We’re all beggars before God, brother Jeff.)

Amen.  Now this man had no silver or gold to contribute to Jesus’ treasurey.

(No sir.)

And he had no leverage down in the mayor office.

(No sir.)  

No pull with his congressman.

(No sir.)  

This poor man had none of these sorts of things, and yet Jesus did not turn him away.

(No he did not.) 

For Jesus recognized in this poor man a beloved child of God

And he took him aside, so as not to embarrass him, and Jesus proceeded to go the extra mile with this poor man.  

(Amen.)

He put his fingers in his ears, and he spat on the man’s tongue.  

(Amen.)

And then he sighed deeply unto heaven, crying Ephphatha!

(Ephphatha!)

Be opened!  

(Be opened!)

And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue released, and he spoke plainly.  

(Amen.)

Now this morning you and I are going to come forward to receive the grace of the glorious Lord Jesus.

(Amen.)

We come, everyone of us, as beggars.

(Amen.)

There are no favorites here; the Lord Jesus loves us all (Amen.)
was willing to die for us all.   

(Amen.)

We come willing to receive crumbs that fall from the table, but God intends to give us much more –- God intends to fill the great emptiness of our souls.  

(Amen.)

We come this morning with impediments to our spirit

(Amen.)

Blockages to our souls

(Amen.)

Our vision clouded.  

(Amen.)

Our hearing muffled.  

(Amen.)

Our tongues held back from what needs to be said.

(Amen.)

And the Lord Jesus will draw near.

(Amen.)

He’ll place his fingers in our ears.

(Amen.)

He’ll mix his saliva with ours, gaze up to heaven, sigh deeply in his spirit, and cry, Ephphatha! 

(Ephphatha!)

Be opened!

(Be opened!)

And it will be so.

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