Playing Favorites

Judging and categorizing people instantly? Guilty.

I like to blame it, at least partially, on my personality. I feel compelled to analyze absolutely everything and if I can put someone in a category then I feel like I know how to act around and towards them. If you put me in a group of people that I don’t know, I will stay almost completely silent until it becomes necessary for me to speak or until I have everyone else figured out. Now, whether my assumptions are actually correct or not, is irrelevant. I simply require some frame of reference before I will allow myself to engage someone else.

Call it introverted. Call it analytical. Call it judgmental. Call it whatever you want. But as I listened to the message this week I began to re-evaluate my intentions in doing this. Time after time, I react to someone based on my first impression of them and their external appearance. I receive them based on their face, their manner, their demeanor, their mood – whatever they project towards me.

And my intention behind this mental assessment isn’t to understand them so I can show the love of Christ to them right where they stand. I do it to make sure that I don’t reveal too much of my true self, to protect myself from vulnerability, from rejection.

I go through life seeking me. Me, me, me! What can I get out of this experience? What will I learn? How will this benefit me? What can this person offer me? How will this relationship enrich me and my life? And in doing so, I not only miss the point, but I also distort the Gospel.

Genuine faith in Christ does not show favoritism because that is not the heart of God.

God created us to worship him and enjoy him forever. He is. He was. He will always be. He embodies and defines every attribute to the fullest extent. One does not overshadow another. Perfect unity. God is unity. Impartiality.

As soon as I say that I feel like I’m falling into some New Age, hippy dippy, self-actualization, uber-tolerant heresy. But God IS unity. In him, in the trinity, exists perfect community – authority, submission, action, humility. And without my understanding of that how can I hope to not show partiality? To not judge someone based on what they can do for me? To not receive them based on their face?

Genuine faith in Christ does not show favoritism because that is not the heart of God.

And God created us in his image, wonderfully.

So, I will continue to praise God. I will praise him not for what he can do for me, but because he IS. And he is worthy of praise. And in that I rest. Out of that I shape my intentions towards others. “…don’t show favoritism,” (James 2:1 NIV) It’s more than an imperative command. It is who God is. It is the basis for his equal compassion for all of us.

“So speak and act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty…” (James 2:12 ESV) This law does not condemn me to leave me with no hope in my certain and continued failures on this count. This law points me to the Gospel. It points me to grace. Christ is impartial when I am not. It drives me to community. It humbles me in my need for connection.

It reminds me of Christ’s perfection and mercy and impartiality. It frees me to love without condition or expectation, in spite of, in light of the faces before me.

 

Check out The End of Hypocrisy message series at http://discovergrace.com/messages/

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