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Respect of Persons and Hypocrisy in the Church

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Pastor Jackson leaned forward, resting his pungy hands on the podium, the silent demand for his congregation's undivided attention. With closed eyes, a wrinkled brow, and a slight bow of his head, the five foot five inch leader of King of Kings church, stood motionless. It was nearly 11:00PM; and many of his members had to report to their jobs early in the morning. But, he would not allow that thought to rob him of the glory of all eyes focusing on his moment of deep meditation before finishing his sermon on the sins of respect of persons and hypocrisy in the church--sins of the infamous pharisees and saducees.

"We gone hear what the word of God tell us, 'cause ain't no word above this one here!" Pastor Jackson shouted as he wiped the perspiration from his brow and stomped his feet in a two second dance. His statement made with authority as he held his Bible in the air elicited remarks of praise and encouragement from his congregation.

"Amen! Preach the word pastor," responded the voices in unison.

Pastor Jackson eagerly continued his sermon on respect of persons and hypocrisy in the church.

"In the book of James, chapter two, verses one thru four, we read, 'My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool; are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?'"

~~~~~~~

Deacon Lovelace slowly shuffled his ninety-three year old body toward the podium to lead the tired congregation in closing prayer.

"Befo' we pray y'all, I wanna do how the Lord is leadin' me," said the tall and lanky deacon as he slowly rubbed the palms of his hands together.

"Oh, how long this gone be?" Missionary McGreggor thought as she let out a sigh while restlessly twitching her leg and twirling her thumbs. She was not alone in her thoughts or the physical manifestations of those thoughts.

"Uh, we know that, uh sis-sista Sommers just had surgery and been off work." The deacons words came awkwardly, but the imminent message was loud and clear, and caused a quiet stir among the members of King of Kings.

Sister Sommers glanced around without turning her head to observe the eyes that rolled, the slouching postures, and the sour expressions on the faces of her brothers and sisters in Christ. As her eyes continued their roam of the congregation, they fell on the change that some were digging out of their purses and pockets.

Although she was most thankful to deacon Lovelace for his adherence to the scriptures that condemned having respect of persons and the sin of hypocrisy in the church, she knew that pastor Jackson's sermon had fallen on deaf ears. The five, ten, and twenty dollar bills that had been so generously dropped into the offering basket were now invisible. The single mother of three children who had only contributed meager tithes and offerings to the church fund was worthy only of change and a few one dollar bills here and there.

"We, we, got twelve dollars and ten cents. Y'all, we can at least make this fi'teen. Come on now, let's show our love for sis-sista Sommers. Her insurance ain't kicked in yet. Come on now." The deacon gently coaxed the perturbed congregation as sister Sommers silently blew in disgust at the humiliation of even the respected deacon having to beg on her behalf.

~~~~~~~

The story above, which ocurred in the 1960s, is true. Only the names have been changed. It is only one account of the commission within Christian churches of all denominations of the sin of having respect of persons and of hypocrisy in the church. Sadly, many members of the church today continue to be modern-day Pharisees who preach, but do not practice.

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