June 8, Monday

NEW Today’s AMI QT Devotional is provided by Stephanie Moon who, together with her husband Jon, serves as a missionary in Coban, Guatemala. She is a graduate of University of Washington (BA) and University of California, Berkeley (MBA).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Are We Really All that Different?”

James 2:1-4, 8-9

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? {….}8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

annie-spratt-rPE1qDdoVVI-unsplashWhile I dare not equate what I am feeling to what African Americans have been putting up with for centuries, my heart, nonetheless, does break for them. It is time to confront the fact that racial bias is alive and well in many people’s hearts. While the horrific deaths of Ahmaud Abery and George Floyd are incredibly upsetting acts of injustice, what Christian Cooper experienced in New York City—the sin of subtle partiality outlined in James 2—hits closer to home.  It may be easy to point our fingers at the culprits in these cases and think that we would never act that way, but are we really all that different?  Aren’t we culprits of some form of partiality, favoritism or racism as outlined in James 2?  Ultimately, when we have widespread acceptance of even subtle acts of racism (e.g., “These types of people are like this”; “I’m safer living in this neighborhood”; “I would rather do business with this type of person”), this gives way to larger acts of racism.

James 2 clearly states that anything less than loving our neighbor and treating people the way we want to be treated is a transgression against God.  What can be so soul crushing for the victims of racial bias in the U.S. is that this sin has been so integrated with the fabric of our country’s history that it may not seem wrong or a sin by the perpetrators. Nevertheless, while these systemic injustices can feel endlessly large and frustrating, God calls us to radical grace and radical justice.

The first step is to acknowledge the sin of racial bias or partiality in our lives. We must uncover the areas where we have “made distinctions among yourselves and a judge with evil thoughts.” The next step is to confess it to God and share with others—friends, family, and church. We need to collectively become more aware and conscious of the subtle ways we sin against our neighbors.  Once we recognize the injustice in our hearts and communities, we should be compelled into action to fight injustice. This will look different depending on what community we are in. For us, it is finding ways to support the indigenous families in our Guatemalan village. For you, it might be learning more about people of color, educating your family, writing to your politicians, meeting physical needs of victims, or volunteering. If you do not know where to start, ask. Wonder. Question. Get information.

Remember, while governments may pass laws to legislate justice, God uses people—those who have been transformed by Christ—to bring justice at a personal level.  Yes, we can have the greatest impact by changing the communities to which we belong and have influence, by “do[ing] to others what you would have them do to you” (Mt. 7:12).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, remind us that we are called to radically love our neighbors. Help us to go beyond merely talking about wanting to do this or that for people; instead, convict us to reach out and tangibly love those who have been so unloved. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 49


Lunch Break Study*

Read Philippians 3:10-11: “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What can we say about Paul’s desire here?
  2. What is one thing of which everyone is afraid but Paul seems to have overcome it?
  3. How can we know Christ more intimately?

Note

  1. Paul is not speaking merely of having a greater mental awareness of God, but that he has a passionate longing to encounter a deeper personal union with Him.
  2. Because Paul’s love for Christ, there is nothing that would hold him back, not suffering, not death, not anything!
  3. Think about pursuing these things:
    1. Ask God to nurture in you a desire to know Christ that outweighs every other desire.
    2. Think about the obstacles that hinder your love for Christ and give thought as to how you should deal with them.
    3. Meditate regularly on passages like Phil. 2:6-11 and Col. 1:15-20
    4. Study the Gospel, such as the book of Mark or John with Phil 3:10-11 prominently in mind.
    5. Worship and adore him in song and in prayer. Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You.  There is no greater thing. You’re my all, You’re the best. You’re my joy, my righteousness. And I love You, Lord!

Evening Reflection**

Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

victor-ballesteros-tH7JvdHBc1w-unsplashHeavenly Father, You call me forth to let my light shine so that people would see these good works. Yes, I desire to show forth Your light, for You delight in me and You are worthy of all praise.  I thank You that I am Your workmanship and You have destined me to do Your righteous works! With the greatest wonder and delight, I partner with You to be a blessing to people around me.  Again and again, I am reminded of how You have revealed Your righteous character and Your kingdom through me to others. Thank You for using me and working through this weak vessel.  Amen.

*Prepared by Pastor David Alas (first posted on September 21, 2013).

**Prepared by Pastor Bruce Yi, the leader pastor of Remnant Westside Church (first posted on September 21, 2013)

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