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Sunday, June 16, 2019

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The rich and influential are treated differently than the poor

The rich and influential are treated differently than the poor

A few years ago, someone in a big city conducted an experiment.

He borrowed two cars: one was an old jalopy and the other car was an expensive chauffeur-driven car. He then put on some old clothes, messed up his hair, took the old car and drove down a major street. He stopped at a main intersection for a red light, but when the light turned green, he did not move. He just sat in the car.

Very soon all of the cars behind him started honking their horns and shouting at him to get out of the way. After a few minutes of this abuse, he drove on.

Then he went home, changed into good clothes, combed his hair, and got into the chauffeur-driven car. He sat in the back seat and had the driver take him down the same street. They stopped at the same intersection. When the light turned green, he told the driver not to move.

Then he waited. This time, no one honked their horn or started shouting at them. They just all quietly took their time and drove around him when they could.

His conclusion from the experiment was obvious. We treat the rich and influential people much differently than we treat the poor and powerless.

According to the Letter of James, this is directly contrary to the way that a follower of Jesus should behave.
“If a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, ‘Have a seat here, please,’ while to the one who is poor you say, ‘Stand there,’ or, ‘Sit at my feet,’ have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?” (Jam. 2:2-4)

As Christians we cannot have one standard for one group of people and another standard for another group of people. The poor and powerless have as much right to our respect as the rich and powerful.

When we judge others, we make distinctions between them and ourselves. We create separations and divisions. We start to break down the unity that is naturally there from the fact that we all share in the same world and are part of the same human race and children of the same God.

Prejudice has been responsible for more violence and death in our world than probably any other single factor. In recent years we have seen examples of attempted genocide where whole nations are threatened by other nations – where people are so full of hatred for a certain race or nationality that they would kill every member if they could.

These are among the most horrible crimes against humanity. Yet it all starts within us. When we accept a false conclusion that others are not as good as we are because of how they look, or live, or talk, then we have given up our faith in Jesus Christ. This is very serious and we must take it very seriously.

Jesus wants us to look closely at our own hearts to see if we harbor any kind of prejudice toward any people. If we find we are bias toward anyone, we should renew our minds and hearts according to the mind and heart of Jesus. Jesus knew no distinctions between peoples.

Pope Francis recently said, “Gossiping is terrorism because the person who gossips is like a terrorist who throws a bomb and walks away, destroying; they destroy with their tongue, they don’t make peace. The devil is always tempting people to open their mouths and say something wrong. It’s his job to divide people.”

Be a peacemaker!