June 3, 2013: Favorites – Does God love me more than you?

Posted on : Jun 6th, 2013 | By | Category: Still Speaking

“Clearly, I perceive God shows no partiality…”  Acts 10:34

My brothers and I had a rather hard-hearted game we used to play on our mother, especially when one of us got into trouble – which was often – or when one of us didn’t get our own way – which was even more often.  My oldest brother, who by default was always getting into trouble – it is the oldest sibling’s “job” to test all the boundaries – started this hard-hearted game.  Whenever he didn’t get his own way or got caught and was about to be punished for something, he’d turn to our mother and point to me and say, “You always loved him more!”

That was like a dagger to my mom’s heart and I realized if it worked for my older brother, it could also work for me.  We soon discovered this became less effective the more often it was used.

I do remember my mother trying to convince us that she loved each of us as much as the other.  That made no sense since one of us almost always ended up being sent to our room for a “time-out,” while the other went outside to play.  Today, however, I now know exactly what my mother meant.

Jump ahead to the next generation.  My older brother has two sons, my younger brother has two sons and two daughters and I have two goddaughters.  Each of those eight kids is as different as night and day.  Some of them get into much more trouble than the others, and some of them will do everything in their power to anger or emotionally attack their parent(s).  The mystery is, no matter what they do, no matter how awful (or good) they behave, their parents and uncle still love them equally.

And that is the way it is with God.

Some folks are absolutely sure God loves them more than others.  For years in the religious struggle for equality, we heard the words “God loves the sinner, but hates the sin.”  Apart from the fact that such a statement is an insult to God, the test I always used for religious pronouncements such as these is whether they were true and honest when offered in reverse.  In other words, would we say for all heterosexuals, “God loves the sinner but hates the sin?”  That spiritual platitude obviously doesn’t hold up well in reverse, and therefore it shouldn’t be used to oppress lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender folks either.

Behind those words lies one of the most difficult spiritual truths that continues to haunt us.  Does God really love us all equally?   The deeper spiritual question is, why is it that some people feel they need God to love them more than others?  Why don’t they work on discovering God’s love for themselves instead of trying to make God love the rest of us less?

Donna Schaper in our weekly “God Is Still Speaking Devotional” says:

God couldn’t be God and have favorites.  Get over it. God can only be God and be impartial. The morally immature don’t get it and assign superiority to their selves or their class or their national origin. Grown-ups don’t.

Prayer

Thank you, God for the gift of impartiality, which requires that we grow up. Amen.

If you have any doubt about God’s love for you – warts and all – read Acts, chapter 10.  And memorize this verse:  “Surely God shows no partiality.”

Blessings to you all as we begin this week’s celebration of LGBT Pride.

Dan

PS:  We are having worship on Pride Sunday – 11 am at church.

PPS:  To read Donna’s thoughts click here.

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