- When have you felt like an outsider (at church or elsewhere)?
- Watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxSa2V6TUsU (3m 45s)
Prejudice and discrimination are ongoing human problems and talking about them (especially with regard to the church) often makes us very uncomfortable. But God’s word addresses this issue in many ways and in many places, so God’s people need to think about it. Consider what it means to experience prejudice, or simply to struggle with being welcomed or feeling like an outsider.
- Have you visited churches that welcome well or badly? What could we learn from your experience and their approach?
Read James 2 v 1-13
- How does James show that favouritism is not just unhelpful but wrong (v 4-7)?
- Why is it such a serious thing to do (v 8-13)?
- Why does favouritism dishonor not only other people but God himself? And conversely, why is acting without partiality a reflection of God’s own character and actions?
The Christian must not show any favouritism regarding clothing, wealth, class, accent, skin colour, background, achievements, or other external aspects of a person. The human tendency is to view others as partial, but not ourselves. The reality is that we all have our blind spots.
- What types of favouritism are particularly tempting in your setting? What are you and our church most likely to discriminate on the basis of?
- Think of what the culture is at Dundonald and who might not fit in as easily?
- In what ways is our church strong at welcoming outsiders? Where could it improve?
- How can you personally be a part of that? What might need to change about the way you act or speak, both at church gatherings and during the week?
- How can we help each other to be prayerful & dependent on God’s grace in welcoming all? (both on a Sunday morning and during the week)
We are amazed and stunned when we remember all that Jesus left behind when he came to rescue us and welcome us. Please might his great sacrifice for us spur us on to be willing to sacrifice for others. Please change our stubborn and pride-filled hearts to be more like yours. Please enable us to display the always-needed, eternally relevant, forever-glorious love of Jesus to all we meet, both on a Sunday morning and during the week.
- Reflect regularly on how Christ gently and graciously welcomed you.
- Ask God to search your heart for any pride and prejudice that you may have.
- In your gatherings, be on the lookout for those who are by themselves.
- Consider volunteering for ministries that extend hospitality.
- Pray for your pastors and fellow church members: that we all would truly reflect the ministry of Jesus, who is the friend of sinners.
- Book: Love Your Church (Ch 2) by Tony Merida
- Song: Come People of the Risen King by Stuart Townend
- Book: Welcome by Jen Oshman