In her fascinating book Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise, Ruth Reichl reflects on her 6 years as a New York Times restaurant critic. Because she was the most influential critic in the country, top restaurants posted her photograph so their employees could recognize her. Hoping to earn a high rating in the New York Times, the staff intended to provide her with their top service and best cuisine.

In response, Reichl developed a clever strategy. Hoping to be treated as a regular patron, she disguised herself. On one occasion, she dressed up as an old woman. The restaurant made her wait a long time to be seated and then was unresponsive to her requests.

In the early church, James spoke out against favoritism: “[If] you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and say to the poor man, ‘You stand there,’ or, ‘Sit here at my footstool,’ have you not shown partiality among yourselves?” (2:3-4).

When people attend our churches, are they treated impartially? Or do we show favoritism to the wealthy or elite? God calls us to show concern for and interest in all people, regardless of their social status. Let’s welcome all to join us in worshiping the King!