God’s Favorites

My sister and I are grown women, but sometimes we bicker and quarrel like stupid 10 year-olds over one thing: each of us is convinced that the other is our mom or our dad’s favorite.

“Well mom would never think of making you [insert difficult task here]. She’s always fussing about you, after all you are the pretty one…”
“Just shut up! Why do you always bring that nonsense up?”
“It’s true. Just ‘cause you have the ethereal look going for you…”
“You’re crazy! I should be the one complaining. Dad always lets you get away with everything, he never gets angry at you like he does at me. He’s always spoiled you silly—and mom too. After all, you’re the baby.”
“That’s not true!”

Blah, blah, blah….

I was very young when after reading the Bible stories and such, I wanted to know just why John was the beloved disciple. I liked Peter the most, I identified most with the effusive and impulsive disciple than with John (of course, after reading the Bible more, I learned John wasn’t as meek and humble and as good as I had supposed at first).

Later, after reading a book by Katherine Patterson (which, by the way, set me back several years in respect to my view of God) I had to know just why God seemed to “arbitrarily” favor Jacob the liar and hate Esau.

And even later after I read the un-euphemized account of David and his dealings with Bathsheba and her husband, I wanted to know why God favored David so much in spite of this grave sin.

It seemed that some people just enjoyed having more of God’s favor and blessing. I wondered if it was, indeed, true that he was already predisposed to favor others and not others, why was he so adamant we all love him with all our being if it would not make much of a difference in how he was going to love me? It troubled me greatly at first, but after I reached my cynical teenage years I grew rather despondent since I could never aspire to be God’s favorite. It wasn’t until much later that I came across a book by J. Oswald Sanders that I began to understand the true nature of what I thought was God’s “favoritism.”

The preface of the book began caught my attention:

We cannot read biographies or come within the orbit of great men and women of God, who so obviously enjoy intimacy with Him, without wistfully desiring to share such an experience…

So true. I turned the page and proceeded to read the first chapter:

It is an incontrovertible fact that some Christians seem to experience a much closer intimacy with God than others. They appear to enjoy a reverent familiarity with Him that is foreign to us. Is it a matter of favoritism or a caprice on the part of God? Or do such people qualify in some way for that desirable intimacy?

I liked the first line. It reminded me of Austen’s classic first line in P&P. I forgot about that, though, as the book began to address the point in question, but put it in an entirely new light by making case analyses of Moses and Jesus’ closest disciples.

Both Scripture and experience teach that it is we, not God, who determine the degree of intimacy with Him that we enjoy. We are at this moment as close to God as we really choose to be.

Ouch. But there is more…

True, there are times when we would like to know a deeper intimacy, but when it comes to the point, we are not prepared to pay the price involved. The qualifying conditions are more stringent and exacting than we are prepared to meet; so we settle for a less demanding level of Christian living.[1]

It was a knockout. It addressed the point that had bothered me for many years, and it did nothing to ease me.

Because it’s true. Do you feel far away from God? Do you think he loves others more than you? If ever you feel that you are unloved, think: How much have you loved God? Whether we are God’s “favorites” or not, relies entirely on us and our choice to be with him.

That I was not “God’s favorite” was only because I had not done anything about becoming God’s favorite beyond resenting those whom I deemed “unworthy” of his infinite and overflowing love and favor.

(to be concluded on my next post)

[1] Sanders, J. Oswald. Enjoying Intimacy with God. (Grand Rapids: Discovery House, 1980), p. 12

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