NIMBY – reflections on James 2:1-10, 14-17

NIMBY (Not In My BackYard) has been around for a while and it has recently hit the news cycle again as the look for places to store Gitmo detainees. In this week’s epistle text James throws us another point that many of our churches start to cry, NIMBY!

During a recent conversation with a parishioner they were talking about a family who visited our church recently. About two sentences in a person lobbed “did you see his Rolex?” into the conversation. For this blue collar town and blue collar church there was a lot of excitement over a watch. I heard mention of it again in another conversation. It was funny, none of them complained about where this person sat. James is speaking directly too us when he tells us that we usually reek of favoritism.

James is trying to connect with the early church that Christ’s heart was with the poor, not the rich. “Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him?” The poor is where God’s heart lies, why is the church so different.

The church is great at writing checks, supporting ministries and missionaries, and nodding when the poor comes up conversations, but what are we really doing with the poor? James goes on to say that “faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” Are many of our churches simply mausoleums for the faithful dead? We pat ourselves on the back for writing checks and call that our good works, yet if “one of those people” showed up, they would be asked “are you lost?”

Minister to the poor? I’ll write a check but NIMBY!

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