Date: September 11, 2022
Faith on Display in Your Relationships
The Point: Don’t play favorites.
Get Into the Study
After discussing Question #2, share this story:
The congregants present at Leaders of Tomorrow International Ministries in Brooklyn received a shocking surprise on Sunday, July 24, 2022. In the middle of Pastor Lamor Miller-Whitehead’s sermon, a group of men entered the church with guns drawn and came toward him at the pulpit.
The intruders were reported for taking an estimated 1 million dollars worth of jewelry from just the pastor and his wife. After robbing his wife in the front row, they approached the pastor lying face down on the ground beside the pulpit, where they took numerous rings from his hands and multiple chains from his neck.
What is most surprising to you about this story?
In addition to wearing these items in the pulpit for those to see in the service or on the church’s Livestream, he also posts regularly on Instagram his purchases of expensive jewelry, specialized suits, and luxurious cars. When he recently made the news in his city, he was criticized for being a “flashy pastor.”
All of us would view the intrusion as a crime, but is there another one being committed here?
In James 2, God’s Word teaches that we should not treat someone differently by their clothes or jewelry. In essence, trying to draw attention to ourselves or giving preferential treatment to others when gathered with the people of God is counterproductive to why we come.
Why do you think the pastor bought such lavish items and needed to display them in worship?
For more on this story and credits for the quotes provided, you can check out:
Travis Agnew is a disciple of Jesus, husband to Amanda, dad to the Agnew 3, and Lead Pastor or Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. He loves writing about faith and family at travisagnew.org.
Get Into the Study [Option from Young Adult Leader Guide, p. 37]
To introduce this session, show one of these video clips from Undercover Boss to give group members an opportunity to discuss the impact of favoritism in different situations.
Study the Bible (Option from the Daily Discipleship Guide Leader Guide, pg. 117)
Use the following illustration prior to your discussion of James 2:1-4.
Play this short video clip from “Undercover Boss”: click here. (Note: Feel free to stop the video clip after 0:39 seconds.) Ask, “How might he have treated the ‘new employee’ if he’d known his true identity?” Allow time for discussion. Then ask, “What causes us to ‘play favorites’ with people in our lives?” A
Live It Out
Share the following story as you conclude your session. You may want to share some of the pictures from the linked sites.
When you think of ancient sculpture, you likely picture white marble statues, possibly headless or armless. You may have realized that those sculptures were not originally created with missing appendages. But did you know they were originally painted? A new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art allows visitors to see ancient Greek and Roman sculptures as they were originally intended—in vibrant color. The new exhibit is titled Chroma, which means “color” in Greek, and features bold patterns and bright colors. Chroma allows viewers to see the art the way it was originally designed and created.
Our God has designed and created a world full of color and variety and filled it with His image-bearers. But the sin of prejudice keeps us from seeing people the way God created them. When we group people together under labels based on race, finances, or politics, we miss out on all the beautiful details of the individual. Each person in an image-bearer created by God.
Ask: What are some ways prejudice prevents people from recognizing others as image-bearers? How might our relationships change if we tried to see people the way God sees them?
Invite the group to review the Live It Out section and each choose one application for this week.
Nikki Wilbanks grew up in Tennessee before heading to California to study literature at Pepperdine University. She enjoyed a decade-long career as a commercial real estate appraiser in Southern California, where she met her husband. Back in Tennessee now, she loves being a writer and mom. She is an active member at Third Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
- When have you been excited to meet someone famous?
- Why do you view your favorite sports team as the best sports team?
- Why do you think fans of your sports team are the best fans?
- Why is it so easy for us to play favorites in our relationships?
- What are the consequences of showing favoritism in the church?
- Why might we be tempted to give preferential treatment to rich or influential people?
- How can a person’s financial status affect their relationship with God?
- What are some situations or circumstances in which it’s common for us to ignore the poor?
- When have you seen God working through someone you least expected?
- What are specific ways we can reject favoritism and obey God’s command to love our neighbors?
- Where do we have opportunities to go beyond passively avoiding favoritism so that we can actively demonstrate God’s love?
For Those in Your Group
Send the following link to your group members as either a teaser before the group meets or as a follow-up thought:
Click here for a 20-minute podcast for both the group member and the leader.
Podcast (adultsleadertraining): Play in new window | Download
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Walter Rowell says
It is difficult to express all the aspects of favoritism I have experienced. Like everyone else I have been on both ends of the spectrum. Yet in the church where the leaders congregate with leaders and favor those who have the most to contribute, financially and spiritually feelings of isolation exist. Jesus said he came to call sinners not the righteous. I find comfort knowing God chose the poor to be rich in faith spiritually as well as financially. I find a need to watch for both.
Lynn Pryor says
Thanks for sharing, Walter!