I had the privilege of worshiping near the new college president this week.
He comes in alone and sits down. He has a humble dignity about him. We exchange welcoming smiles as church begins. I find myself self-consciously keeping track of him during the service. Several months ago, if I had noticed him at all, I would have only seen an older gentleman sitting in church among many.
I hear our pastor ask the faculty and staff to stand and be acknowledged for their dedication through the year. I join others in picking up small tokens to give these workers. I have some and head back up the aisle. Many are already sitting down. I look up and see Mr. President is seated as well. Yet, I double check to make sure he has one too. He smiles and waves it slightly, assuring me.
Continuing up the aisle, I realize the only one still standing is my step-son’s mom. I hesitate for the briefest moment. I feel so awkward to be the one to give her a token of approval and appreciation. Yet moments before, I had been eager to present this same token to the college president. With a smile to convey genuine appreciation for her work, I reach her. She surprises me with a hug. I trip over my tongue and finally say, “God loves you.” She sits. I look over at my slightly-bewildered step-son and greet him warmly for Sabbath. Glad I came with two tokens. Going back to my seat I feel exhilarated at the unexpected, positive interaction we just shared. I feel God’s smile because His will was done.
It took me awhile to realize that I had lived out a Biblical parable and had almost been guilty of preferential treatment. The man worshiping nearby isn’t just anyone anymore; he became the president of my alma mater! He’s an important man and deserves to be cared for and acknowledged in a manner suiting his station.
On the other hand, my step-son’s mom… she’s nice and all; but she cleans toilets at the college. (Very well, I might add, along with other managerial functions.) Certainly she can continue to be safely overlooked, can’t she?
“OH, NO YOU DON’T,” says Jesus. There is no favoritism in My kingdom. Stop it; or you will be treated like you don’t matter. Maybe then you’ll understand how it is I want you to treat others.
At church this week I was privileged to worship with fellow believers: a dignified gentleman with smiling eyes and an unassuming woman with a warm hug.
My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. 2 For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, 3 and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” 4 have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? James 2:1-4