Tuesday, April 5, 2016

P1 - Embracing Christ-centered rather than man-centered Christian living

James 2:1 My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.

Today's post features the author of James warning his readers to not show favoritism. The word translated "favoritism" connotes courting favor with certain people so as to gain their favor. Quite literally the Greek word underlying this English word literally refers to be a "seeker of the face". Another way we could render this word could be simply avoiding what amounts to "man-centered" or "man-pleasing" Christianity. How can you and I tell when we are concerned more about "seeking the face" or "approval" of people than God? Today's post begins a three part blog series on the subject we will call: Embracing Christ-centered rather than man-centered Christian living.

How avoiding "man-pleasing" Christianity functions in the overall message of James' letter
James' key point in his letter is concerned with "living working faith", as seen in James 2:26 - "For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead." As James writes to Jewish Christians scattered throughout the regions of Israel and beyond, he communicates to them the type of Christian faith desired by the Lord.  How often in churches today do you see favoritism or "man-pleasing" determining decisions and policies?

Bible teacher R.C Sproul in his study on James refers to this warning on favoritism as "playing politics".  Clearly whenever we try to please one group over another, or whenever we "cave in" to the whims and desires of certain people - we end up being man-centered in our lives and thus our various forms of service to the Lord.  What James is warning us to avoid in this subject of "showing favoritism" is people-pleasing, man centered Christianity.  It is a guarantee: wherever you see man, rather than Jesus Christ being the focal point of all efforts in your personal life or church, somewhere along the way favoritism has reared its ugly head.   

How God regards people ought to be the guide for how we are to approach people
The testimony of scripture is that in all of God's dealings with people, whether they be believer or unbeliever, is the fact that He does not show favoritism.  Passages such as Psalm 89:14 states - "Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne;
Lovingkindness and truth go before You."  

God is a fair God.  No one can influence God to adjust standards or pull some strings to accomplish an agenda that would violate His character.  God does what He does for His own glory and purposes. (Isaiah 48:11)  When we turn to the New Testament, time and time again we read of how God does not show favoritism for the sake of anyone. (Romans 2:11; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:25) 

So as we can see, whenever Christians get caught in the trap of trying to impress people rather than glorifying God, man-centeredness results. Amazingly enough, whenever we make Christ our sole Person for whom we bring pleasure, He will bless our efforts and bring people our way in His own timing and purpose. Tomorrow we will consider the consequences of man-pleasing Christianity and how we can instead embrace Christ-centered Christianity. Today we will close with these words from Jesus Himself - John 12:32  "A
nd I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”

More tomorrow.... 

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