As kids, people are told to not play favorites. We are encouraged to share with others. Friends are supposed to be treated as equals. No one person should be privileged over and above others.
For the most part, the lessons are good. Treating others like we want to be treated is downright biblical (Mark 12:31). The desire to bless all people is foundational to the gospel and the mission of Christ (Exodus 19:6, Revelation 7:9). So, I see how “playing favorites” can lead to behavior that every child should avoid. Fair treatment of others is a good lesson for children to learn and even better to practice.
Because of those lessons, we assume God would never play favorites. Yet, the scriptures tell us otherwise. Christianity worships a God who indeed plays favorites (Malachi 1:2-3, Romans 9:13). Jesus privileges some at the expense of others (John 12:1-11). In fact, Jesus’ approach to playing favorites really upset people of his day (Luke 4:14-30).
The scriptures tell us that Jesus favors people the world doesn’t. Jesus feasts with the sick while avoiding the healthy (Mark 2:13-17). Jesus blesses the poor (Luke 6:20) and warns the rich (Matthew 19:16-30, Luke 6:24). Jesus embraces little children while correcting His “mature” disciples (Mark 10:14). Jesus celebrates the persecuted (Matthew 5:10) while admonishing the powerful (Luke 18:18-23). Jesus puts the last first (Matthew 2:16). Jesus plays favorites and privileges those the world disdains.
As you go through the coming week, praise the Lord that He has favored unfavorable people like us. Look for people who the world tends to devalue and do something special for them. As you do, you will catch a glimpse of the heart of Christ. You will also experience the God who indeed plays favorites.