Acts 10:34-35 “Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.”
Romans 2:11 “For God does not show favoritism.”
James 2:8-9 “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 2:1 “My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism.”
1 Timothy 5:21 “I solemnly command you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus and the highest angels to obey these instructions without taking sides or showing favoritism to anyone.”
2 Chronicles 19:6-7 “Jehoshaphat said to them, “Watch what you do, because you are not judging for people but for the Lord. He will be with you when you make a decision. Now let each of you fear the Lord. Watch what you do, because the Lord our God wants people to be fair. He wants all people to be treated the same, and he doesn’t want decisions influenced by money.”
I was reading in Acts 10 this past week when Peter’s bold declaration that God does not show favoritism jumped out at me. It was certainly a bold statement considering the context. Jewish national identity was built on the fundamental belief that they were special, that they were God’s chosen people. This was certainly an historic moment. Not long after this event the doors of the church were opened wide for the Gentiles to be treated just like those born Jewish in every aspect of life and faith. No longer would there be “us and them” in church life. The dividing wall of hostility was broken ushering in a new season where Gentiles would soon outnumber the Jewish believers in the church throughout the Roman Empire.
Favorites? Don’t we all have favorites? Certainly we have our favorite ice cream, sports team, TV show and cars? Mine being chocolate peanut butter ice cream, the Seahawks, The Three Musketeers and of course a VW GTI.
It’s clear that scripture wasn’t talking about likes and dislikes in taste, but rather warning us to not tolerate attitudes of favoritism towards people. Wealth, beauty, race, gender or any other social status was not to be how we considered or interacted with others as the children of God.
As I pondered this admonition by Peter, I realized how counter-cultural it was for the early church, and how revelatory it must have been as they reflected about the heart and character of God. Favoritism is inconsistent with God’s character. He is absolutely and totally impartial in dealing with humanity. His love for this world caused him to give up his very life for them. It was this love, displayed on the cross that broke down the walls of separation and introduced them to the unity that could only be found in Christ Jesus. In Christ there are no favorites, no special class, no discrimination, no “us and them.”
The world walks in the opposite spirit of how we are to live as the church. The world celebrates favorites! Broadcasting our favorites often creates the flip side, the excluded, the less than desirable. Favorites build un-intentional walls of discrimination just as Israel’s long history of division serves as an example. Acts 10 opened the door for all to be God’s people.
This is why Jesus said to love God and love your neighbor as the great commandment. Maybe the antidote for favoritism is just to treat everyone as our “favorite” neighbor. Maybe showing no favoritism is really treating everyone with all the favor we can possibly give. Maybe if we give our favor to all, in this way we would spread God’s love to a world that so desperately needs it.
May in Christ there will no longer be Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female for we are all one in Christ Jesus.