Tag Archives: equality

All Welcome

I guess we all have our favourites of some things.  Favourite flavour of something; favourite perfume; favourite route to get somewhere; favourite place to go for peace, calm and restoration.  Or  some suggestions from Maria:

My Favourite Things

Yet sometimes it is impossible to choose a favourite.  Different things have different merits making them different, but equal.  It is after all impossible to choose a favourite from amongst your own children, or nieces and nephews, friends, pet or other special relationships.  They are all favourites!

1 Peter 1:17-23 (CEV)

17 You say that God is your Father, but God doesn’t have favorites! He judges all people by what they do. So you must honor God while you live as strangers here on earth. 18 You were rescued from the useless way of life that you learned from your ancestors. But you know that you were not rescued by such things as silver or gold that don’t last forever. 19 You were rescued by the precious blood of Christ, that spotless and innocent lamb. 20 Christ was chosen even before the world was created, but because of you, he did not come until these last days. 21 And when he did come, it was to lead you to have faith in God, who raised him from death and honored him in a glorious way. That’s why you have put your faith and hope in God.

22 You obeyed the truth, and your souls were made pure. Now you sincerely love each other. But you must keep on loving with all your heart. 23 Do this because God has given you new birth by his message that lives on forever.

And so we are reminded that God has no favourites.  He looks at all people equally.  He loves us all, sees what each of us does, offers his forgiveness to each and every one of us the same way.  That is good news for us all.  However I feel about myself, God’s gifts are no less for me that they are for anyone else – and they are no greater for me than anyone else.  No one has any more or less access to God and all he offers.

But with that comes a responsibility.  Because if God has no favourites, neither should we.  we have no right to decide anyone is any more or less worthy of God’s love and forgiveness than anyone else; not right to stop anyone coming to him; and no right to feel superior to anyone else – or for that matter inferior.  God loves me and the next man or woman equally.  We may be very different, but we are no better or worse.  We are all people in need of forgiveness, love and grace – and that is what God gives.

Thank you God
that each of us is special
to you,
none of us
any more or less special
than anyone else.

Thank you for loving me
the same as you do
everyone else
and giving me
the same gifts of
forgiveness and your love.

As I realise that,
may I respond
by sharing that love,
not feeling the need to decide
who you give to
or not,
but sharing,
gratefully,
together
in all your gifts,
for only by your grace,
your love,
your forgiveness
can any of us
come to you

Only by Grace

Treated Alike

Our sons have a running joke that each of them is the favourite and favoured one.  A light-hearted jostling, because they know full well they are both treated alike and treasured for the unique individuals they are.

Acts 10:34-43 (CEV)

34 Peter then said:

Now I am certain that God treats all people alike. 35 God is pleased with everyone who worships him and does right, no matter what nation they come from. 36 This is the same message that God gave to the people of Israel, when he sent Jesus Christ, the Lord of all, to offer peace to them.

37 You surely know what happened everywhere in Judea. It all began in Galilee after John had told everyone to be baptized. 38 God gave the Holy Spirit and power to Jesus from Nazareth. He was with Jesus, as he went around doing good and healing everyone who was under the power of the devil. 39 We all saw what Jesus did both in Israel and in the city of Jerusalem.

Jesus was put to death on a cross. 40 But three days later, God raised him to life and let him be seen. 41 Not everyone saw him. He was seen only by us, who ate and drank with him after he was raised from death. We were the ones God chose to tell others about him.

42 God told us to announce clearly to the people that Jesus is the one he has chosen to judge the living and the dead. 43 Every one of the prophets has said that all who have faith in Jesus will have their sins forgiven in his name.

Peter is at pains to make it clear that he is sure that God treats everyone alike.  God is pleased with anyone who worships him and does the right thing.  Apart from that, it doesn’t matter who they are, where they come from, what they look like – God has no favourites.

Peter’s Vision

This comes in the midst of his encounter with Cornelius,  after his vision about who decides who and what is clean or unclean, so he is able to open his mind and heart to someone that he wouldn’t have.  He could learn and share with people outside his comfort zone, people who until that point he would not have thought would have been able to know God, and certainly wouldn’t be able to teach him anything.

I sometimes think that one of the biggest problems we have is each trying to prove we are more special, more favoured than the next one.  We can, if we are not careful, play a game of Christian one-upmanship.  I’m more blessed than you are, God is working more here, God must love me more.  This works in two different ways at the same time – it makes me feel better and makes the other seem inferior to me – both of which feed each other.  Neither of which are good or necessary.

But why the need for the competition?  Do we feel so bad about ourselves?  The truth is God values us all.  We are not all doing the same thing.  We each have different gifts and callings, but none are any more or less important.  There is room for all, and all are needed if the church is going to be a rounded picture of life.  As long as we are doing the right thing, doing what God has asked of us and worshipping him, he is happy, he is pleased with us.

He doesn’t measure one against the other, he measures me only against what he has asked of me.

It is only Peter’s openness to God in the other person, rather than measuring that person against himself and his values, that allows him to walk the path God has called him to.  A sobering fact and a challenge to me if I am going to walk the way of being God’s servant, someone who works for him.

I thank you Lord
that you treat every person alike.
Everyone is special to you,
we are each in our own way
your favourite;
you value our uniqueness
and you call us only
to be the person you ask of us.

I pray that you will help me
to remember that,
to hold tight to it,
to neither feel inferior,
or feel the need
to make someone else feel that way.

Lord,
open my mind
and my heart,
to see you
and your possibilities
in everyone around,
that together we can learn
and not compete.

I’ve chosen this because of the last verse:

So let us learn
How to serve,
And in our lives
Enthrone Him;
Each other’s needs
To prefer,
For it is Christ
We’re serving.

Favourite Things

We all have favourites – favourite films, favourite food, favourite place to go, things that make us feel safe…

James 2:1-17

Warning against Having Favourites

2 My friends, if you have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, you won’t treat some people better than others. Suppose a rich person wearing fancy clothes and a gold ring comes to one of your meetings. And suppose a poor person dressed in worn-out clothes also comes. You must not give the best seat to the one in fancy clothes and tell the one who is poor to stand at the side or sit on the floor. That is the same as saying that some people are better than others, and you would be acting like a crooked judge.

My dear friends, pay attention. God has given a lot of faith to the poor people in this world. He has also promised them a share in his kingdom that he will give to everyone who loves him. You mistreat the poor. But isn’t it the rich who boss you around and drag you off to court? Aren’t they the ones who make fun of your Lord?

You will do all right, if you obey the most important law in the Scriptures. It is the law that commands us to love others as much as we love ourselves. But if you treat some people better than others, you have done wrong, and the Scriptures teach that you have sinned.

10 If you obey every law except one, you are still guilty of breaking them all. 11 The same God who told us to be faithful in marriage also told us not to murder. So even if you are faithful in marriage, but murder someone, you still have broken God’s Law.

12 Speak and act like people who will be judged by the law that sets us free. 13 Do this, because on the day of judgement there will be no pity for those who have not had pity on others. But even in judgement, God is merciful!

Faith and Works

14 My friends, what good is it to say you have faith, when you don’t do anything to show that you really do have faith? Can that kind of faith save you? 15 If you know someone who doesn’t have any clothes or food, 16 you shouldn’t just say, “I hope all goes well for you. I hope you will be warm and have plenty to eat.” What good is it to say this, unless you do something to help? 17 Faith that doesn’t lead us to do good deeds is all alone and dead!

What we shouldn’t have is favourite people – those we stop and speak to, and those we don’t; those we listen to, and those we don’t; those we cut some slack, and those we don’t; those we help, and those we won’t; those we give respect to, and those we don’t…

James reminds us that God’s way does not treat some better than others – if it were we might not find ourselves as secure as we think – so why would we do any different?

If someone important looking turns up, do we treat them differently to someone who doesn’t dress so well?  Would we treat the mayor differently to a homeless person if they both cam into our church one day?  You would hope not – but… really?

Or are there some people we like, and others we find very difficult?  Do we treat them the same?

God welcomes all into his kingdom, and it is no business of ours to do differently – for we only welcome people on behalf of God.

We show our faith, by acting as God does.  How can you do that where you are today?

Lord,

may I love and live for you.

May my ways be your ways,

your love my love,

your acceptance mine

– may I see no favourites,

just people you love and welcome