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This weekend we studied a passage in James on partiality. James specifically addresses showing partiality to the rich over the poor, but this passage applies to all forms of discrimination. This is directly going against God’s command to love your neighbor as yourself. One of the implications of Jesus’ death on the cross is that we have been made a new family in Christ. When we show partiality, we are looking at this new family with the world’s eyes and not God’s.

At Mercy Church, we desire to truly reflect the heart of God and be a signpost to heaven where every tribe, tongue and nation will be present worshipping God. To do this, we must fight to be a multi-cultural church, with each of us laying aside our partiality and taking action to change though the power of the gospel.

This week’s homework: Using the helpful acronym “ARC” below, place yourself on the arc and take a step. Share your step with your community group members. As you do this, remember the hope we have in Christ. James 2:12-13 says, “So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” James is telling us that the power to change comes from the gospel. We were once deserving of punishment, but instead, God gave us mercy, giving our punishment to Jesus so that we may live. Because of this, we can be merciful and gracious, knowing that we will never meet someone who is undeserving of our love and respect.

Awareness: We all need to be awakened to our blind spots. This is a crucial first step. Pray and evaluate your heart and your life to see where you show partiality towards others. Repent where you may have discriminated against people for a long time.

Relationships: No matter how aware you are, reconciliation and change won’t happen without relationships. God came down to us to reconcile us to himself. Likewise, if we are going to reconcile with others, it will mean going to them. Start with any acquaintances you have. In particular when it comes to race, maybe there’s someone you know who is a different race than you. You know each other, but you’ve never spent significant time together or had a substantive conversation. Why not invite that person or couple out to coffee or have their family over for dinner? It’s natural, organic way to deepen a relationship you already have.

Commitment:  Committing to consistent, long-term change is the hardest part. Awareness and even a meal with someone is easy. But your partiality did not happen overnight. It’s been developed over years. And maintaining a changed posture will mean laying down your preferences for the sake of Christ. It will most likely result in change and change is usually not comfortable. If you have awareness and a relationship, how is God calling you to commit more to that? Again, remember James’ point on the Mercy of God. Jesus says in John 15:9, “Abide in me and you will bear much fruit.” Unless you rest your hope on Christ, your attempt to change will likely be a flash in the pan and it won’t last. But through the power of Christ you can see lasting change.

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