WOMEN AND MINORITIES MAY APPLY!
by neil deo
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Here are the facts: Dictionaries are not Bibles, and God absolutely does not play favorites.
My Oxford American Dictionary says favorite is an adjective: “liked or preferred above others,” and when a noun, favorite means “a competitor generally expected to win.” Believers know that the Lord is not racist, partisan, or prejudiced toward individuals and groups. My dictionary surprised me with another entry for “favorite son.” It omitted Jesus for “a person preferred as a presidential candidate by delegates from his own state.” Jesus focused not on presidential, but kingly, politics. And women may apply!
Jesus emphasized His Kingdom is not of this earth. But one might hear: God appears to have treated Jesus as anything but a favorite son. Why would a Father favor His only begotten Son through a crucifixion! These words may represent literal and/or metaphoric Truth. Here I am, with this limited human mind, trying to unravel who is favored and who is not, and how; and to understand the human charge that God apparently “abandoned” Jesus to Judas and his paymasters.
If I were to admit failure in trying, with this mind, to unravel the mysteries of our Divine Father, I am left with nothing but my heart. My heart as the center of my human temple has this to say. ‘Hearken the Book of Acts; everyone is chosen at some time, yet no one is chosen unless he or she is worthy, or becomes worthy of following Jesus.’ The rest of my being, my ears, my eyes, my hands and my breath applaud, sing and shout in thankfulness: This is the Good News all over again. The Lord gives everyone of us - the high and the lowly, so-called favorites and so-called outcastes - a chance to join His flock, His Tribe, His Kingdom of Holiness! Peter and the disciples offered exactly this to all and sundry (3,000 baptisms) during the first Pentecost.
From the very first words in the Book of Acts (NIV, 1984) we are assured that Jesus is the Lord’s Son in whom God is pleased, and always working! In ACTS 1,15-18 Peter repeats what we know from many sources, that Jesus died on the cross because He willingly fulfilled the Scripture, and “which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David concerning Judas, who served as guide to those who arrested Jesus - “ only to fall headlong in that field he bought with the notorious 30 pieces of silver: “his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out.” Yet as we delve into this chapter, the Good News and first fruits take effect. This period of the Pentecost (from Jesus’ Resurrection through the fiftieth day after Easter) is the beginning of the Christian Church’s mission to the world. It blurs the lines between Judaic and Christian history and festivals, between the chosen and the gentiles. The result is the grandest opportunity to claim Jesus as our own, our lineage and unworthiness being irrelevant.
By the day of Pentecost, Matthias had replaced Judas among the disciples, and “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” In the midst of “God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven” and Medes, Parthians, Arabs, Elamites, visitors from Rome - “both Jews and converts to Judaism” - Cretans and Egyptians … Peter stood up and recalled the Prophet Joel’s words (NIV, ACTS 2, 17-18 and ACTS 10,34-45):
“17 In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my spirit on all people …
18 Even on my servants, both men and women….”
34 Then Peter began to speak: ’I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right’ …
45 The circumcised believers who had come with
Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy
Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles.”
Unworthy, I cling to the inimitable cross and with all my siblings in Christ, I win. God will choose all of us even if some of us love differences. We may not know exactly how we are favored, or apparently cursed, but the Book of Acts places everyone on an equal footing before God. Through Jesus, we always have second, third and final chances. “Favor” becomes irrelevant; “Who is chosen?” is the wrong question with Jesus.
I may add this humorous conclusion for those who want to smile, or laugh more today. This issue of favoritism is like someone applying for a job at the new Department of Homeland Security, and refuses to address whether or not he has any qualifications for the job. The innocent applicant submits a resume with all his parents and grandparents listed, in fact his British pedigree detailed with pride, but nothing mentioned about his education and training. The Director writes back, "We are looking for an efficient spy, not someone we can use in human breeding."
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This is definitely an intellectual read and at times I went back and reread a paragraph, making sure i could "feel the impact" as well as see the words. The opening grabbed me because who hasn't wondered how teh favored one, Christ, was given the hardest role to play and is it a little scary to be favored by God based on this?! Yet, God knows the easy path to him can seem like the opposite. Many things to think about here...
Thanks a lot Jay. I really like that you mentioned the article is not totally clear or easy to follow. It will help me as a writer if you kindly - even if privately - email these spcific lines or paragraphs. I promise I will rewrite them. God Bless, Neil Deo
Thank you Neil. I enjoyed the reading, and how you pointed out the equality to come to Christ. New at the business of critique. For me, at times it was hard to follow. But you made very strong points about favoritism. Look forward to reading more.