How Middle Class ‘hipster’ Christianity can Ostracize the Poor and Show Favoritism to the Wealthy
Does your church show favoritism to the rich? James, the brother of the Lord, gives clear instruction in chapter 2 of the book named after him. “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.” He goes on to give a scenario of two people walking into the assembly. If I may use some imagination here, the story goes like this.
The first parishioner pulls up in a Lexus, wears the latest fashions and takes her notes on an iPad. The second comes in from the nearest bus stop with nothing but stained, unfitting and old-fashioned clothing. Do you see where I’m going with this? The church people show the wealthy parishioner to the best seats. They tell thrift store man to go sit near the back (hoping he’ll make an exit). Either that or they just leave him to his own devices, hoping that someone else will accommodate him.
James gives a stinging rebuke to those who think and act in this way. He says that these people commit sin, having become judges with evil thoughts. When you ostracize the poor and accommodate the rich you make yourself a judge.
Churches can easily be guilty of this even though their bulletin boards are filled with projects to help the poor. One way I’ve noticed this is when we try to make the church building (and staff) look hipster. There’s nothing wrong with hipster, but why are we parading the latest trends all over our church building.
Another thing that we can do is subconsciously only allow attractive, well-dressed people on the stage. That’s what TV stations do…NOT THE CHURCH!
Or how about this one…oh, I’m gonna go there! Trying to be like a copycat Bethel Church. Don’t get me wrong, I think Bethel is a great ministry that is doing amazing things! However, the look and sound of Bethel Church is not the be all and end all. Our churches need to stop aiming to be like Bethel and start aiming to be like Jesus!
Here’s another one. When the pastor makes continual references to going to Starbucks or boasting about Apple products! I don’t think you can get more ostracizing to someone on a low income than to do that. It angers me how pastors brand name drop in their sermons. It’s as if they were being paid by the companies they promote.
Because of geographical displacement from poorer communities, many churches are attended by few who are actually poor. Thus, the interaction of many church members with people in poverty can become not only rare, but anecdotal!
All this said, no matter what your church looks like etc., this is a matter of the heart. If you are part of a church, what do you do to accommodate someone who smells bad, or acts strangely? Do you treat them in a different way than a “put-together” person? If you do then you are sinning and making yourself a judge. rant over.