Whenever you work with children, or are around them for any length of time, you tend to get to know them and their beliefs. But one constant among all of them, is this idea concerning fairness, especially given their propensity to declare something as “not fair” when they perceive great injustice done against them. What really will get them going is saying that someone does or does not have favorites. They will immediately say that we are not supposed to have favorites and we are to treat everyone equally.
The fairness argument is a false premise. We are to teach and raise our children in a way that is according to their nature. Some may receive greater privileges than others because they demonstrate the maturity to handle such privileges. Some need to be treated with kid’s gloves because they cannot handle the extra responsibility. So please know, that I don’t buy the premise behind the idea of “fairness.”
Given that, one day I was working with a group of children who were bemoaning the fact that there were favorites in the group, claiming that it was “unfair.” Several of them told me with 12-year-old authority that I should not have favorites. I quickly responded by saying, “Well, Jesus had favorites!”
The eruption that followed was greater than a Japanese tsunami. They immediately accused me of being biblically ignorant, asking me if I had ever actually read the Bible. All I could do was laugh. There was no point in trying reason with 12 year olds.
Yet, even in the midst of my chuckles in using the line, of which I no longer do, it gave me a snapshot into their belief system. This is the “not-very-promising” part of the story. They were convinced in their minds that Jesus loves everyone, unconditionally and equally because the song goes, “red, yellow, black and white, all special in God’s sight,” or something like that. I don’t have the heart, or the freedom to tell them that the song, nor their view of God, is scriptural.
Their view is typical in the evangelical church: God loves everyone, equally and unconditionally, and it’s up to us to believe in Him, do our best, and save ourselves. I’m sure those children were doing nothing but repeating what their parents say, and what their pastors say. Sadly, they are set up for defeat once they leave the home and hit college.
The first professor they meet will say, “If God loves you equally, and unconditionally, then why does He allow bad things to happen to you, or anyone else? Not much of a God if He can’t stop bad things from happening to all the people He loves, and even worse if He can stop bad things from happening to good people, but chooses not to.”
Suddenly, what little belief system these children have will be dismantled quicker than a BMW in the hood. The knowledge of God that they do have will not stand up under scrutiny because it does not portray God honestly. God doesn’t love everyone equally, and unconditionally. If He did, He would save all of us. But He doesn’t. God has actually chosen a certain number of those who will be saved and left the rest of humanity to themselves. Now, let that sink in for a moment or two. God has no intention on saving every one. Why? For His own glory!
When we come to Scripture, we must not let our sappy evangelical culture dictate our views on God. We must let Scripture dictate our views on God, and nowhere in Scripture does it ever say that He intended to save everyone. Logically we can conclude that He had favorites, those chosen by the Father, saved by the Son, and sealed by the Spirit are those whom He loves (Ephesians 1:3-14). As Peter calls those among the elect, a chosen generation… Just the reality of being chosen eliminates the foolishness of thinking that God loves everyone, equally and unconditionally. In fact, the reality of being chosen before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1), rules out being loved unconditionally. Those who are saved, are so because the Father chose them. It is true that this election is not based upon anything in us, but this does not mean that we are love unconditionally. The love we receive from the Father is based upon His glory and wisdom, along with the redeeming work of His Son, and the application of that work upon us by the Spirit. These, you might say, are just a few conditions of our salvation.
We must also see that God had His favorites both in the Old & New Testaments. In the Old Testament, God chose Abraham and his descendants to be His special people among all the earth.
“For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth (Deuteronomy 7:6).
We also see this truth in the New Testament. I mentioned 1 Peter 2 above, but there are also other passages that we see where God has favorites. For instance, in the book of John, John refers to himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23, 19:26, 20:2). Yes, I believe that Jesus loved all the disciples, but for John, there was such a special bond that he was referred to as the “disciple whom Jesus loved.”
We might think that this is not fair, when we forget that Jesus is God. He has the right and freedom to love those whom He loves, how He pleases to love them. The same is true in our lives as well. We don’t love all people unconditionally, or even at all. I don’t love all children equally or without favor. I have two sons whom I love above all other boys and girls. Why would anyone expect it to be any different, especially since no one lives their own lives in such a way?
We also see Christ’s special affection for Mary, Martha and Lazarus (John 11:3, 5, 36). Jesus loved these three above the multitudes that He healed and above the greater multitudes that He did not heal. In fact, it is interesting to note that He allows those whom He loves dearly to suffer the sickness and death of Lazarus. His love for them was so great that He allowed them to suffer so that they could experience a taste of the greater spiritual reality of the resurrection before the actual resurrection to come. He was showing them, through this miracle, that the greater resurrection He had been speaking of, would come to pass. This was a special gift to Martha, Mary, Lazarus and the rest of us who are His. The resurrection to come, is real and He will bring it to pass in due time, and when He does, He will only raise those of the Father’s choosing to the resurrection of life. The rest will taste the second death and will have no favor from God whatsoever (Revelation 20).
The point is that God does have favorites. Those who are His chosen priesthood are clearly His favorites. He is bestowing on them the privilege of being His elect children, to be redeemed, sanctified, washed, purified and prepared for heaven and eternity with Him. This favor came about in eternity past when He decided the plan of salvation for His own glory. This was His decision, not ours. We must trust that God is who He says He is and quit thinking in this false egalitarian manner that the Bible never supports.