God shows no partiality? Really? GIVE… ME… a break. Well at least that’s what Peter claimed in Acts 10: 34, “Peter began to speak to Cornelius and his household: ‘I truly understand that God shows no partiality.’”
Let’s talk about this a little further…
What is partiality? It is basically favoritism. So, if God doesn’t show favoritism, then how do you explain the Israelites – God’s chosen people – giving them the promised land of Canaan – God annihilating any inhabitants of that land and anyone who opposed the Jews?
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s have some group participation. I have a little survey I’d like to take. With a show of hands, how many of you have children? Keep your hands raised if you have more than one child? Now here comes the real question at the heart of this dilemma of partiality. Keep your hands raised if now or at some point while you were raising your children, you have a favorite child. BE HONEST!
I have my family sitting right here, so I can ask them and push for an honest answer – because I know the answer.
Drew, stand up. This is my nephew, Drew. The first-born child of my sister, Jennifer. Drew has a younger sister named Kara. Kara, stand up. Drew, who do you think is your mom’s favorite child? Kara, who do you think is mom’s favorite child.
Do parents really have a favorite contrary to what they all claim, “I love all my children equally?”
It would appear so, and the children know it too, even if the parents don’t admit they have a favorite. Chase and Riley couldn’t be here today, but I asked them Friday night who they thought was their parent’s favorite child. They both agreed that Chase was their mom’s favorite, Riley was their dad’s favorite, and Chase was my favorite.
Time Magazine’s cover story in their October 2011 issue was titled, “Why Mom Liked You Best: The Science of Favoritism.”
I’m going to have Drew and Kara pass out a copy of the cover of that issue.
In this article, written by Jeffrey Kluger, he cites a 2005 study, by Katherine Conger at the University of California, who visited nearly 400 sets of parents and their children three times over three years. She asked them questions and videotaped their interactions, then concluded that “65 percent of mothers and 70 percent of fathers exhibited a preference for one child over the others, usually the older one.”
Mr. Kluger then goes on in the article to look at the animal kingdom, and from that he concludes that we are biologically programmed to prefer one child over the others.
Here’s why, he writes:
As with so much else in child-rearing behavior, it begins with the parents’ survival needs: the biologically narcissistic act of replicating themselves through succeeding generations. This impels Mom and Dad to tilt in favor of their biggest, healthiest, smartest offspring, since those kids will be more reproductively successful and get more of the family’s genes into the next generation.
So, if we as parents show favoritism to our kids as part of our biological nature to ensure the survival of the best traits, does God, our Father, do it too, despite what Peter said?
Well……yes, He does……………………and no, He doesn’t…..at least in the same manner we do as parents.
Lucky for us, God’s nature is not the same as ours. God is just. Good is good. God is right. He’s not so concerned with the biggest, the smartest, the healthiest, the strongest of His children – He’s concerned with what is right vs. what is wrong.
When we read that next verse in Acts Chapter 34, it says,” but in every nation who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him.”
When Jesus came, He died on the cross and rose again for all people of every nation. Not just for the Jews, but also for the Gentiles. God’s choice of a people who experience His saving grace — whether the nation of Israel or individuals for salvation — rests on His unmerited act of grace. This includes receiving the Holy Spirit now and eternal life in the future. However, such grace, if it is accepted, calls forth a response of obedient service and faith toward God. That is, the people of God respect him and “do what is right.”
The prophets of the Old Testament said that grace would one day be extended to all nations. Isaiah spoke of a time when God would call Egyptians and Assyrians (two dreaded enemies of ancient Israel) as His people, along with the Israelites. But somehow God’s purpose was forgotten by the Jews who returned to Judea in the 6th century B.C. after their nation had been defeated by the Babylonians and sent into captivity. Upon their return, the Jews felt the need to protect their identity as Torah torchbearers against idol-worshipping Gentile paganism. Thus, the notion developed that Gentiles could become part of the people of God (whether nation or church) only if they first became law-observant, God-fearing Jews.
But now a new thing is happening: the “good news of peace through Jesus Christ” — and it is being sent to Gentiles directly. The apostle Paul explains this peace as a two-fold endeavor. God’s purpose is to “create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace.” The gospel of salvation is meant to break down the enmity and differences between Jews and Gentiles, creating a single new people of the Spirit. Thus, spiritually speaking, there is no such thing as a “Jew” and a “Gentile.” They are all one in Christ.
However, in today’s world, we are still a divided people, and it seems as with every passing year, we become more divided: Republican vs. Democrat, Women’s Rights vs. Men’s Rights, Black Lives Matter, the privileged vs. the unprivileged, Gay Rights. We blame people only on the merit of the color of their skin, their gender, their nationality…the list could go on and on. And we defend people only on the merit of the color of their skin, their gender, etc. And it goes both ways. Black people blame the white man because he’s white, and the white people blame the black man because he’s black.
But to God, and thankfully so, He doesn’t concern himself with Black Lives Matter, Republicans vs. Democrat and so on. Because to do so, one would have to be a “respecter of persons”, showing partiality and favoritism based solely on character traits and we call stereotyping – meaning no matter right or wrong you defend them based on the stereotype of that group of people. God on the other hand appeals to all who do what is right regardless of character traits.
In every group of people, no matter how you distinguish or classify them, there are always good people who do what is right and fear the Lord, and there are always those who don’t. But the ones who do what is right and fear the Lord are truly our Brothers and Sisters – black, white, female, male, rich, poor, American, Asian, Jew, Gentile.
That’s the message of salvation! We do a fabulous job these days of dividing ourselves and looking for someone else to blame and criticize – pitting one group vs. the other.
But Jesus’ gospel of peace is meant “to reconcile all of them to God through the cross.” Thus, Jesus’ work establishes peace between humans and God, and between one branch of humans and all others. As Paul explains it, Jesus “came and preached peace to you who were far away [the Gentiles – or insert whatever class of people you’d like] and peace to those who were near [the Jews – or insert whatever class of people you’d like].”
This is the message of the Gospel and the message of salvation as we go into the Easter Season.