Monday, November 16, 2020

Does God Have a Preference?

Reign of Christ Sunday, Year A

Lectionary Reading: Matthew 25:31-46 (NRSV)

Maslow's Hierarchy of Need shows the basic needs
at the bottom.  Notice that hunger, thirst and clothing
occupy the first level.  Health is under Safety while
being a stranger would fall under Love and belonging.
Imprisonment would fall under Esteem.  All of these
must be addressed before we get to spirituality
which would fall under Self-actualization.

I have an older sister and brother in my family of origin.  Of course, there are a lot of similarities with each of us.  All three of us have a sense of humor and enjoy a good laugh.  We are all fairly tender-hearted when it comes to someone in need.  Each of us is fairly stubborn as well and tend to dig in if we feel that we are being pushed around.  

But we are each different from the others, too.  My sister is the most conservative theologically and politically (ironically, she lives in Washington state) while my brother is the most liberal with these areas.  That leaves me in the middle (no surprise, that I often had a peacemaker role in the family according to my psychological profile).

We were raised by the same parents who expressed the same values with each of us.  Birth order studies tend to show that we'll likely adopt varying personality traits depending on where we fall in the line-up.  Overall, I think my parents wanted us to make a difference in the world.  They wanted us to be happy but I always had the idea that we were to leave this world better than we found it.

As I think about what God wants from us, I would think that it is something similar.

Parents are not supposed to show a preference for their children.  Theologically, we also believe that God loves all of us equally.

But does God "like" some of us more than others?

This can get into dangerous ground in the sense that if I say I'm preferred over you, I can rationalize putting myself over you.  This was how the Nazis justified their genocidal behavior.  So we need to treat lightly here.

This Sunday, the church calendar ends up on the Reign of Christ Sunday.  This is the last Sunday of the Christian year before we begin the First Sunday of Advent the week after.  So we think about what Jesus would really want from his followers.  What does this ideal Christian world look like?  Does Jesus have a preference?

We see from the scripture reading that Jesus seems to be the most concerned about the hungry and thirsty, the stranger and the naked, the sick and the imprisoned.  Of course, we can get philosophical and declare that all of us are hungry, naked and imprisoned in some form or fashion.  But he seems to be speaking temporally here.  

As a parent, if your child were any of these things, you would not be happy.  You might even give more of your resources to alleviate these conditions over the children who were doing well.  This doesn't mean that you love them more.  It means that there are certain conditions that are not part of your will for them.

So it is with God.  

And how will God alleviate these conditions?  It seems that we have no farther to look than a good mirror.  It doesn't even matter what your birth order is.

We'll continue to explore this passage on Sunday so I hope you'll check back with us.  I do love you all but my preference is for you to join us in some way for worship (preferably online if you are particularly vulnerable)!  I believe that aligns with God's preference as well!

In Christ,


The photo is used under the Creative Commons license referenced from the following:  McLeod, S. A. (2020, March 20). Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Simply Psychology.

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