Does God Play Favorites?

Does God Play Favorites? July 8, 2016

This will be a relatively brief post because it was unplanned and I mainly want to respond to a common criticism of my last post, “Why Don’t Black Lives Matter to White Christians?

The point of that piece was that post-Judaic Christian theology, especially in regards to concepts such as original sin and substitutionary atonement, have stripped the importance of justice from Christian morality.  Social justice was the cornerstone of the Kingdom movement, but when Christianity moved first from Jerusalem into the Diaspora, and then to Gentile God-worshipers, and finally to Gentiles with no background in Judaism whatsoever, it morphed into a completely different movement with a completely different focus than its founder intended.

Simply put, if Jesus was put on this planet by God in order to die on the cross for our sins, then the actual, historical reasons he ended up there do not matter, because they were simply a means to an end.

If, however, Jesus was a man who was crucified for his radical religious, social, and political beliefs, then any religion based on him must take those beliefs extremely seriously.

Many commenters on various platforms took issue not with my theology, but with the actual title of the post, as if I were attacking all white Christians, ever.

Guys?  I am a white Christian.

But a particularly common response gave me some pause.  It was something to the effect of, “Because God doesn’t play favorites.”

Doesn’t He, though?

Leaving aside the obvious fallacy that saying “Black Lives Matter” somehow implies that other lives don’t (this is linguistics, not philosophy), it’s a bad argument because clearly God plays favorites all throughout the Christian Bible.

First off and most obviously, Christianity stems from Judaism (Jesus was a devout goddamn Jew, people, get that through your thick skulls), which, as a religion, is literally predicated on the supposition that one specific people are God’s “chosen people.” 

I mean, seriously?  God doesn’t play favorites?

But okay, they think that Jesus came to institute a new covenant, or something like that.  I get it.

But here’s the thing:  Jesus also played favorites, many times.

Remember what he said to the Syrophoenecian woman?  “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24)

Whoops.  That sure sounds like playing favorites to me.

Also, how about, “Blessed are the poor…those who mourn…the meek…those who hunger for righteousness [better translation: justice].”  It certainly sounds like there are some specific people or groups of people that Jesus is particularly interested in helping or that he believes are particularly loved by God.

So here’s what I’m saying:

The African-American community is the poor.  The average white household is sixteen times wealthier than the average black one.

The black community is clearly in mourning, for the countless lives taken too soon, for the families destroyed, for the rampant injustice they face on a daily basis.

And the fact that Black Lives Matter even exists is proof of a tangible hunger for righteousness all across America.

In other words?

If Jesus were alive today, he would proudly proclaim “Black Lives Matter.”

If you care at all about following in the footsteps of the man you claim is God, then you need to say, “Black Lives Matter.”

If you hunger for righteousness and loving justice, you must say, “Black Lives Matter.”

Black lives matter to God.  Do they matter to you?

Please pray for the families and loved ones of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, just the latest casualties of a system of injustice and brutal, lethal oppression. 

philando castile

Philando Castile, Facebook

alton sterling

Alton Sterling, Facebook

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  • Megan Crawford

    “If, however, Jesus was a man who was crucified for his radical religious, social, and political beliefs, then any religion based on him must take those beliefs extremely seriously” jumps out and gets in my face.

    I believe that the cross we are all called to take up and carry is the work of “righteousness”/Justice. There can be no love or peace without justice.

    Justice isn’t just about punishment. Justice is about fairness — in opportunity, in share of resources, in treatment. . .

    God favors the underdog throughout the Bible. And we are called to seek “righteousness”/JUSTICE for the underdogs. “Underdogs” are predominately those who suffer INjustice. Both underdogs and non-underdogs share the responsibility to stand up for and work for and sometimes fight for what is right. And by so doing, we are ALL redeemed and favored.

    Is it our “guilty conscience” or our “me focused” greedy mentality that thinks if “black lives matter” someone else’s doesn’t? We, as a society, obviously need to be reminded that “black lives matter” too — because we seem to have forgotten that fact. Police shootings are just the tip of the iceberg in how we, as a “nation” act as though most black lives don’t matter.

    Let’s all wipe the motes and logs out our eyes. And let us mourn together as one body that is beaten and crucified daily — and then together resurrect and be a new kingdom.

  • Frank

    God blesses those that obey God.

    • Al Cruise

      Yes Frank I finally have to agree with. The blessings I have been given is nothing short of astonishing, but the blessings I have seen given to the least among us that we have been able to show God’s love too, has been miraculous.

    • Obscurely

      Yes! God commands us to bless the poor, the disadvantaged and dispossessed, the victims of power and privilege …

  • Brandon Roberts

    look i’ll be short simple and concise yes god does play favorites it confirms this in the bible he prefers jewish people and his children over others also what happened to alton sterling and philandro castle is tragic and cops shouldn’t shoot a person who is restrained or simply reaching for their wallet or anyone who isn’t posing a threat or trying to grab their gun my problem isn’t saying black lives matter it’s the behavior of at least some of the members.

  • Obscurely

    Brother Chiakulas … with respect, may I point out that God only “favored” the Jewish people in the first place (through Abraham) so he could bless the whole world through them! (Genesis 12)

    Also, rather than say Jesus favored certain groups of people, I think Jesus explained it better himself when he said (with supreme irony!), “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17) In other words, if you don’t feel any need for Jesus and his Way, then he has nothing to say to you?

  • Obscurely

    Here’s an excellent analysis of the structural (vs personal) sources of racism: