The gods play no favourites.Charles Bukowski
I’m not sure about other gods, but I know that’s true for mine. I have been reading Romans this week, and I came across,
11 … God does not show favouritism.Romans 2:11
34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realise how true it is that God does not show favouritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.Acts 10:34-35
Jesus also demonstrated this truth when He welcomed the company of …
- Samaritan women (not okay if you were a Jewish guy)
- Lepers (not okay if you wanted to have access to the Temple)
- Tax collectors (not okay if you wanted to have any Jewish friends. Especially if that tax collector was a Jew)
- Children (okay but uncool)
- Adulterers (all kinds of not-okay)
- Gentiles (impure, unclean, idolaters; the worst of the worst)
But all praise God for His impartial invitation, because it means that He chooses to hang out with the likes of us; Gentiles.
Now for the tricky bit
Once we’re adopted into the family of God, we are to die to self and live in Christ. Then, we undergo a life-long work of the Holy Spirit transforming us to be more like Jesus.
However, one of my problems is, I have favourites. I’ll be honest with you, there are some people I prefer to hang out with than others.
Thankfully, the Holy Spirit put the word “show” in this verse. God does not show favouritism. Perhaps it’s like how God sees sin. He doesn’t forget our sin when we confess and repent. But He chooses to not consider or remember it when we shelter in Christ.
God may very well have favourites–I do not profess to know the mind of God–but if He does, He doesn’t let that impact his judgement, grace or mercy. He offers everyone an impartial invitation into relationship.
The even trickier bit
Jesus’ disciples were to learn everything they could from him, because when he left, they would be Christ’s representatives throughout all the world. So, He not only demonstrated and taught them what was expected by washing their feet and serving them, He left an instruction manual as well,
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”John 13:34-35
- How to glorify god: Love
- How to be a disciple: Love
- How not to show favouritism: Love
He even told stories to illustrate his point:
Now for the kicker
That was the positive side of the lesson. The flip side is not so pleasant. James sums it up for us in 2:1-13. But here are the highlights:
My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favouritism.James 2:1
8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favouritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.James 2:8-9
The Father has adopted us into his family. We have received life saving, radically transforming relationship. We sit secure in the knowledge that we have been included in God’s plan of salvation. So now, as Jesus’ disciples, in the power of the Holy Spirit, we are to obey the Father’s royal law to Love.
It is not an optional extra.
It is an expectation that comes with accepting the impartial invitation into relationship.
But do I?
There are times when I am ashamed to say, nope.
I totally miss the mark both with the favouritism bit and the love bit. But thankfully, under the weight of conviction is the gift of grace.
We are not perfect, we are forgiven.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
I am grasping this assurance with both hands and offering it all, the known and unknown failings, for the glory of God.
This week after travelling most of the way through Romans, I am:
- In awe of the impartial invitation
- Re-convicted by the command to love
- Overwhelmed by the forgiveness offered
- What about you? Why do you think favouritism is such a big issue?
- How do you see the damage of favouritism in the world?
- In the church?
- How can we be aware when we are guilty of favouritism?