James 2:1-4 – My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
Have you ever been to one of those movie theatres where the chair is a recliner and you can pick your seat ahead of time, so you don’t have to show up early and watch all 171 previews before the movie? Or have you ever sat courtside or in the lower level at a sporting event or right in front of the stage at a theatre production? The more money you pay, the better seat you get.
Now, imagine if church was like that. You show up and you haven’t paid your tithe yet, so you have to stand in the back, whereas the people who have paid more get reclining seats right up front, a glass of water handed to them when they arrive, and a VIP parking spot in the paved parking lot.
In James’ day, if you were in a synagogue, which was their church for Jewish people, this is actually how it was: you would buy your seat! So, on the high holy days, when everyone was coming to church, you could have the seat you paid for. So, you knew who the rich and the poor were, even at church.
The world may do things one way but, at church, it should be different. Church should be a family. When you go to a family dinner at your parents’ house, for how many of you, your parents don’t organize your seating at the dinner table by your income? If they do, those are probably some awkward Christmas dinners.
If someone comes into church, we shouldn’t treat them differently based upon their income level. In the family of God, we should love one another like brothers and sisters and shouldn’t operate the way the world does by economics.
How glad are you that church doesn’t operate like a movie theatre, concert, or sporting event?