Thursday, March 10, 2011

James 2:1-12 The True Measure And The Angel

The True Measure
 And The Angel
Here is a story I used in my Sunday School Class. We were covering James 2:1-4, this is a modern day retelling of the verses. I hope the extra details capture attention and makes the point more personal.


There was a church in a city that was famous for it's good works. It  supported many charities, had started hospitals and raised money for orphanages.  The people of this Church met in a beautiful building with a rich history and strong heritage.

The Lord called the angels to join in his counsel and said. "It is in my heart to bless the members of this congregation.  How shall I bless them? What shall be the measure?"

An angel suggested. "Have one of us go down in the human form of a common laborer, as you were yourself during your earthly sojourn, and the way this church blesses the lowly common laborer will be the measure of blessing you should give unto them."

"You may go in human form wearing the appearance of a common laborer."

The angel walked through the huge wooden carved double doors of the church. His face was suntanned his hair greasy, graying, and uncut, his hands calloused and dark under the fingernails. His shoes were worker's boots, and his clothes were many seasons out of style, soiled and needed mending.

The greeter nodded and held out a Sunday bulletin to the angel as he entered, but except for a nod did not give any greeting.

The lobby was crowded with people in fine suits and clean dresses. The angel waited alone, standing in the lobby; but no one asked his name or introduced themselves or greeted him.

The angel found a space on a pew to listen to the worship. Though the church was full no one sat next to him. No one reached over from the pew behind or in front to say, "Hello."

The orchestra played several hymns beautifully and the choir sang wonderfully. The sermon was passionate and doctrinally correct.

After the service the congregation gathered in the fellowship hall where cookies and coffee were offered as a time to socialize.  The angle milled around the crowd. He walked up to a group of business men and stood listening to their conversation about an upcoming election. No one spoke to him or shook his hand. He stood by the table of cookies and the coffee urn; although dozens of people walked up to the table to get cookies and coffee no one shook his hand, introduced themselves or befriended him.

The angel slowly walked to the exit. Some youth were laughing and enjoying themselves. As he walked past no one said, "Good by."

The angel returned to heaven and gave a sad report to the other angels and the Lord.

"We shall both go next time." The Lord said.  "You may wear a youthful look and fine clothes and I shall wear coveralls and we shall give a second chance to this congregation to prove their measure.

The angel wearing the fine suit barely got through the door before he was greeted warmly.  At the door several beautiful women introduced themselves.  Deacons and ushers came up with invitations to sit with them.

Behind the angel the Lord in the guise an old man in coveralls and a scraggly beard shuffled trough the doors receiving a bulletin and a nod from the greeters. The Lord sat on a pew by the front of the congregation.

"Pardon me sir," said  an usher. "But this seat is reserved for the Trustees."

Without a word the Lord in disguise rose from his seat. "Perhaps there is a seat by the door." The usher offered waiving his hand to indicate the back of the church. The Lord sat by the drafty door.

The angel in the fine suit was given a seat at the front of the church, in one of the newer padded pews. Afterward the cookies and coffee was served in the fellowship hall again as before. The angel had no end of conversation and invitations for lunch. A serving hostess brought him the best cookies and the freshest coffee while he laughed with the men.

The Lord stood by the cookie table, in coveralls. No cookies were offered to him by a hostess, no one introduced themselves to him and no one shook his hand in greeting. As he left there was a crowd of youth at the door, he heard them joke about the old man in coveralls who just walked by.

As the Lord and the angel entered heaven the Lord said. "Have we found the measure by which we will bless this church congregation?"

"Far be it from me to criticize any whom you love, but it seems to me their actions have spoken. They do not need any more blessing, indeed in my judgment they should have less; for they are so blessed in the world's effects that they have forgotten the command to love."

"My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism, Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but you say to the poor man, "You stand there," or "Sit on the floor by my feet," have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?  James 2:1-4.

(C)Adron Dozat