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Favoritism

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. Col. 2:2-4

God is really messing with my paradigms right now…that isn’t anything perverted in case you aren’t familiar with the term. He just has me in what I hope will be a short-lived questioning of many of the untouchables in my world…and by “my world”, I really mean my mind and how my mind has assumed the world can only work. I guess these seasons do happen, but man, it is so disorienting. A pro-con list does not work for this kind of sorting. For the lucky few who have heard me think out loud in the past couple of days, it sounds like really fast point-counterpoint, over and over again. Life-held assumption -> argument that God’s Kingdom isn’t bound by that cultural limitation -> counter-argument that the untouchable assumptions makes obvious sense and I agree most fully with all of them – >challenge that I am trusting in traditions of men rather than God whose will I can’t thwart or mess up even if I do get it all wrong. (That very last part is the grace in all of this!)

This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. As for those who were held in high esteem—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism—they added nothing to my message. On the contrary, they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised. For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles. Gal. 2:4-8

One of my basic assumptions, based on experience, is that certain inner circles of people can accomplish “great things” more reliably than others. A well-known, well-connected Christian can get more done for God’s Kingdom than an unknown, unconnected Christian. But then, the next question is: what does God’s Kingdom most need to have accomplished? What qualifications does the transforming work of the Holy Spirit establish as pre-requisites?

Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong? If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. James 2:2-9

I’ve always been free and clear of this charge of favoritism because I read it with as much tension as an after-school special. Of course I would never tell “the poor man” to “sit on the floor by my feet”. How ridiculous. Nobody does that. Oh, but the person and work of Jesus gently shows me that I do exactly that. I do it by flocking to the “important” person in the room (based either by public opinion or by their usefulness to my future dreams or based on a felt connection that serves my hunger for connectedness) and then, effectively, neglecting the others who don’t offer the same kind of return for my investment of time and energy. On one level, I show a definite favoritism for those with whom I envision a future return on the investment. On another level, I trust far more in the power and connectedness promised by “inner circles” than the power and connectedness of the One who holds the whole world in His hands. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Luke 1:28

God’s children, of which I am one, are highly favored because God is with us through Emanuel, His Son. It is not the other way around. What favor do I seek that has more power, influence or satisfaction than that from God of Heaven and Earth? One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. Psalm 27:4

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