In James 2, James offers two means of being polluted by the world--showing favoritism and living by a dead faith. Favoritism is sinful because it breaks the royal law that commands us to love our neighbor, and dead faith is sinful because it doesn't represent the true and living God accurately. We overcome each by living, active obedience to Jesus that follows him closely into mission to the world.
In one church, an elder worked with a couple for several weeks, studying the bible with them in their own home. After these weeks of study and prayer, the couple decided to be baptized. They were baptized on a Thursday evening and presented to the congregation the following Sunday. But they weren't fully welcomed. Why? Because they were living together, ummarried.
The elder continued to work with this couple and teach them that they needed to either marry or live separately until they married. But his work may have been in vain, for this couple was never completely accepted. Finally, they quit attending.
Did they quit attending because they didn't want to conform their lives to the gospel? Or did they quit because of the lack of full acceptance while they continued to wrestle with the life changes the gospel required of them?
When our rules take precedence over compassion for people, we lose our focus. In this sermon, I look at the example of Jesus and how he healed even on the Sabbath (and was thus labeled a rulebreaker). Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is about justice and compassion, not rules that limit and divide.
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