Rich in Christ
Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him? But you dishonor the poor! Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court? Aren’t they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name you bear? James 2:5-7 NLT
In the times of James, there were only two economic classes in society; rich and poor. The ones who are in nobility and few successful businessmen are the ones being looked upon and honored even among the body of believers. Yet, from the beginning it was the poor who were persistent to follow Jesus for they knew that He cared for them. Christianity was known as the religion of people who were powerless in the eyes of the public. In Mary’s song (see Luke 1), she declared that the coming of the Messiah will bring about relief to those who are poor. “He has brought down princes from their thrones and exalted the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands” (Luke 1:52-53). The Lord Jesus Christ Himself made a similar declaration when His ministry was initiated. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come” (Luke 4:18-19). This is why the rebuke provided from the text to the church that provided preferential treatment to the rich and disregarded the poor was necessary. James has to remind them that God has “chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith” (James 2:5). This does not mean that the poor are saved automatically but to provide an observation based on reality where the poor are more inclined to place their faith in Christ compared with the rich. In matters of spirituality, it seemed that poverty may inflict misery to one’s present circumstances but in the long run such situation could prove to be an advantage in matters of responding in faith. It is trust in God that will provide salvation. James reiterated this fact when he said, “the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him” (James 2:7). We need then to face squarely this matter; how then the comforts of life we enjoy affect our spiritual growth and our witness for Christ? Whether rich or poor, every Christian prizes Christ over anything else.