A verse from early in Romans has been ricocheting around my brain since I read it months ago. Last night I felt another ding in my head, as it bounced off my skull. I guess I should sit down and deal with it.
It’s a verse I’m supposed to like, but I don’t: “For God does not show favoritism.” Romans 2:11
Paul spends much of his preaching and teaching addressing issues between and regarding Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews). He also dwells upon right and wrong behaviors and lifestyles. I think when he writes to the people of Rome that “God does not show favoritism,” he’s reminding the Jews that they’re not being favored over the Gentiles anymore (see Romans 2:17-3:2). I think he’s also reminding people that it doesn’t matter what their name is, what their title is, what they own—God doesn’t care. God doesn’t show favoritism. He’s concerned about whether or not you’re judgmental or not, kind or not, tolerant or not, patient or not, repentant or not, doing good or not (see Romans 2:1-10).
I feel like I’m supposed to read this verse and be joyful, because it’s FAIR. Here in America, FAIR is highly valued. I want my kids to be treated fairly. I want my elected officials to govern fairly. I want my judicial system to work fairly. I want to be treated fairly…really?
Do I want my kids treated fairly, or do I want them to be a teacher’s favorite?
Do I want to be treated fairly, or do I want preferential treatment?
I’m the kind of person who doesn’t “rock the boat” too often or too much. I follow most of the rules most of the time. I do what’s expected of me most of the time. I like to accomplish and achieve; no, if I’m honest, I like to OVERachieve. Graduating isn’t enough; I need some special awards. For most of my life, I’ve been able to overachieve, and I’ve received my special awards at college and seminary graduations. I’m a teacher’s pet. I like being a teacher’s pet. I like some favoritism occasionally…when it’s headed my way.
So, I’d like to be a favorite of God’s. I mean, I didn’t have too rebellious a teenage or young adult life. I’ve followed all the “big” life rules. I went to seminary, got ordained, and work at a church for Pete’s sake (not sure who Pete is though). Shouldn’t I be a favorite?
Then again, I think Job was a favorite of God’s. The Lord said…, “There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” (Job 1:8) Being a favorite of God’s brought Job a lot of pain and suffering; second-guessing being a favorite of God’s now if that’s what his favoritism looks like.