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As a young Christian, I have observed a pattern within the modern Church where Christians can be extremely partial in whom they follow, acknowledge, support and praise according to popularity or social standing. Partiality is a dangerous sin that is warned against many times in the Bible. It breeds cliques and creates subconscious hierarchies. In this article, I will be referring to the Book of James to explore more about what the Bible says on partiality.
Jesus was not partial
have you not then made distinctions amongst yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?James 2:4
The basis of the Christian faith lies in the existence of Jesus and His show of love for us, despite our sin (John 3:16). To truly understand this ultimate display, we must first come to terms with the fact that He died for us whilst we were still sinners (Romans 3:23). We must understand that whilst we were still sinners, He granted us a way out of what seemed to be inescapable (Romas 5:8). He is just and impartial, that is why He offered salvation to all who believe (Romans 1:16) through the gift of faith (Eph 2:8-10), creating a body of belivers who are all in the same standing, called to one faith.
Partiality is such a dangerous sin, especially because it can be difficult for us as young Christians to notice it. James 2 describes a scenario where discrimination is shown towards a poor man in comparison to a rich man. It ends with verse 4 saying “have you not then made distinctions amongst yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” See, partiality leads to unnecessary divergence, even though we are all called to be one body. Based on charisma, popularity, even physical appearance – the list could go on – young Christians can get caught in the trap of following one group over another, based on shallow metrics. This can further lead to blinding young Christians with a word that may not be necessarily scriptural. Christ loves us all irrespective of where we stood in sin. We should aim to follow these steps, removing partiality from the Church and treating everyone equally despite our biases.
A warning against partiality
Judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.James 2:13
A problem with partiality is it causes us to assume judgment over people in the Church. Partiality forces a judgment on people, creating a system only inclusive to “popular” believers, or believers who are perceived to be of a high moral standard. We are warned against this in the Bible – that if we judge without mercy, the same would be shown unto us. Additionally, the hierarchy automatically assumes us as judges and acts to lessen the work Christ did on the Cross for all, despite our state. If Christ judged us all the same, then we should strive to humble ourselves in our behaviour towards members of the Church body.
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.James 2:8
How would you feel if partiality was shown towards you? Would it pull you closer to Christ or deter you from Christ? Partiality is not edifying to the body of Christ nor does it promote the Christian message of inclusivity, “a body with many parts”, “loving thy neighbour”. We must shift out of our bias and move towards embracing everyone within the body, in the same way, Christ embraced us and still continues to embrace us.