Quips and Quotes
"We do not earn or merit anything by taking refuge in God. Hiding in something makes no contribution to the hiding place. All it does is show that we regard ourselves as helpless and the hiding place as a place of rescue." John Piper

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Partiality - Not an Attribute of God


Most of you, by now, have heard about Susan Boyle and her incredibly beautiful singing voice. I wanted to embed the video of her performance on Britain's Got Talent on my blog, but it is no longer available for display other than on YouTube. Click here to view the link in case you have not seen it.

However, I was able to get the vocal of Susan singing Cry Me a River embedded here.



But the reason I decided to make a post about Susan Boyle is based on a text in James. The women's Bible study that I co-teach has been studying the book of James this past year. James 2:1-5 says:
My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, "You sit here in a good place," while you say to the poor man, "You stand over there," or, "Sit down at my feet," have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
After having seen the reaction from the judges and the audience when Susan Boyle appeared on stage for her audition for Britain's Got Talent, it became even more clear to me how fickle the human heart can be. It was only after she began to sing that everyone who had disgracefully judged her just seconds before, realized what they had done. It really was a sad exhibition.

Some apologized. But what if she had croaked out her song? The following comment, from a secular blog, pretty well sums up what I am thinking:
The unspoken message of this whole episode is that, since Susan Boyle has a wonderful talent, we were wrong to judge her based on her looks and demeanor. Meaning what? That if she couldn't sing so well, we were correct to judge her on that basis? That demeaning someone whose looks don't match our impossible, media-reinforced standards of beauty is perfectly okay, unless some mitigating circumstance makes us re-think our opinion?
It is sad to say that we, in our churches, do this very thing. If someone does not come up to our preconceived idea of what a person should look like, talk like, dress like, etc. we have no intention of going any further to discover who that person really is. We remain in our comfort zones, excluding that one from the grace God would display through us were we willing. And then we are relieved and think we are vindicated if that person turns out to be what we judged them to be in the first place.

No, the sin of partiality is wrong no matter what. We become judges with evil thoughts when this happens. God is no respecter of persons. He looks upon the heart. Since we cannot do that, we must give way to love, compassion and mercy.

And consider what it means that God sees the heart. That is a very frightening thing. He saw me for what I really was. We were all unlovely to Him. All of us were guilty in His sight. All of our works were as filthy rags. We were altogether unclean, haters of God, lovers of sin. This is the condition we were all in when He chose to redeem us from our vain manner of life.

Had God been a partial being, such as we are, He would never have chosen to save any of us. We would all face His wrath. And He would have been justified in doing that. No, God saved us in spite of ourselves.

Knowing that, can we, as followers of Christ, learn from what we saw of Susan Boyle's appearance? Can we learn to look on others with compassion and kindness as our Heavenly Father looked upon us in our forlorn and ungodly state? Can we then decide to offer mercy and Christ-like love to the ones we find unlovely?

As for me, I have been very convicted by all of this and am stunned when I think of it in terms of my acceptance before God. He has taken a poor, ragged sinful wretch and given her heaven and all the blessings in the heavenly realms. In Him I have redemption through Christ's blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that He lavished on me with all wisdom and understanding. (Ephesians 1:7-9)

I pray like Paul for those of us making a claim to know Christ:
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19)
Once this kind of knowing is reality, there is no telling what would come of it in our churches and who we would welcome, just as our Lord has indeed welcomed us!

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