The Myth of Divine Favoritism

YouTube: The Myth of Divine Favoritism

Does God do special favors for those who please Him?

This is the essence of a question that was raised as a possible subject for a Sunday message. Because it involves our understanding of the nature of God, it is a topic well worth exploring.

We can start with this question: Does a spiritual practice such as prayer or tithing influence the behavior of God, or does it influence the way we relate to God? Those who think of God in anthropomorphic terms will likely believe their practices influence the behavior of God. Those who think of God as Spirit will see their spiritually-related practices as a way of aligning with the nature of God.

There are numerous places where Jesus indicated that human behavior had no influence over the behavior of God. Addressing the subject of unconditional love, he said “… for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). Elsewhere he reminds his listeners of, “… those eighteen upon whom the tower in Silo′am fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem?I tell you, No” (Luke 13:4-5).

In both cases, these responses sound like something a mystic would say. First, they run against mainstream thinking that insists divine retribution is the fate of the sinner. Second, he is pointing to the changeless nature of God, a key feature of the mystical tradition.

And of course, we have the parable of the prodigal son where neither the bad behavior of the youngest son nor the good behavior of the oldest son influences the love of the father. James also describes God as, “The Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).

It is good to question our own approach to God. Are we still trying to appease the man upstairs or are we seeking to align with the Creative Life Force whose sole intention for each of us is that we “… may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

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