God’s favorites

James 2:1-13

I saw a t-shirt once that read, “Jesus loves you, but I’m his favorite.” That always makes me laugh. After all, I am named after “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”

To say God has favorites might be an exaggeration. I’m sure it makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Does that imply God is unfair? No, it doesn’t. Does it mean God has a bias? Almost. For sure if God started a special interest group, its focus would be on the poor.

This is the funny part of this conversation for me. And, obviously, this is from my personal experience. If you’re talking to someone who isn’t poor, you have to first clarify something. You’re not saying that God doesn’t care for the rich or the un-poor. What’s funny is if you turn things around. If you told someone who is poor God’s special interest is toward the rich, there’s no immediate protest. Of course, that’s how the world works. The poor wouldn’t demand to hear otherwise. In the history of Christian faith, how many poor people were told they’re poor because they’re not good enough? Preachers today will tell people their lack of prosperity means they don’t have enough faith.

And that’s the point of God’s special interest: Humanity’s strong tendency to marginalize the poor. At best they are cogs in a system designed to benefit others. At worst, what becomes of their lives at the hands of the rich doesn’t even matter.

You could also say God did start a special interest group. The church is God’s light to the world. As such, our calling is not to finance a pastor’s dream of a megachurch. We are to walk with Jesus to the places where the grace and love of the Lord need to be known and proclaimed. Now, a lot of Christians will quickly remind you that means everywhere.

And they’re right, of course. It just feels like God only tells pastors and denominational leaders to start new churches in suburban areas. Why does it feel like everyone’s called to go where the excitement already is? What about the poor who get left behind? See, we’re good at playing favorites ourselves and not even realizing it.

If God does play favorites, no one gets ignored or abused. God takes care of everyone. But when we play our favorites, people suffer.

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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