God Doesn’t Play Favorites

Truth to be told, I noted the stroke of midnight heralding the onset of May 21 with some sense of trepidation. Although I’d never heard of Harold Camping before a few months ago, I found myself thinking about him on and off throughout last weekend.

It was hard to avoid, right? There he was on every news website and t.v. broadcast: that crinkly face with the stammering delivery telling us over and over again that we were about to lose everything we hold dear – our families, our friends, our homes, our lives – everything was about to be gone.

And to boot, despite whether or not we had tried to live useful, God-based lives – despite whether or not we had tried our best to be good parents, dedicated mates and reliable friends – if we didn’t see things through the same spiritual funnel as Harold Camping, we were about to burn in the fires of hell for eternity.

At this point I’d normally make a sarcastic remark and go for a laugh, but not this time. I don’t think it’s funny, and to tell you the truth, I’m a little annoyed about the whole thing.

I have no idea if and when the world is coming to an end, but I’ll tell you this: I don’t think God plays favorites.

I’m far too woefully ignorant of the specifics of religious philosophies other than my own to enter into a dissertation worthy of your time. To boot, I can’t quote scriptures of either Testament to support any of my opinions.

But apparently there’s an unending slew of others who can, and they’ve got no problem letting you and I know that they’ve got the answer and we’d better darn well get on board before it’s too late.

In the last several years I’ve been fortunate to interact with clergy of many different faiths. I’ve got cherished letters on my wall from Pastors of African Methodist Episcopal churches, and recently the spiritual leader of my synagogue and I participated in an interfaith Passover dinner where we worshipped with Muslims and Christians in a spirit of real, genuine brotherhood.

And I can tell you that, for the most part, none of these honorable people felt compelled to harangue me with threats of “their way or the highway”.  Do they support their religion’s beliefs? Of course. Do they stand in front of their congregations and advocate their religion’s precepts? Absolutely.

But along with their convictions, they appear – at least to my eyes – to harbor a sense of tolerance rather than a sense of damnation. They are the antithesis of fear-mongering weasels like Harold Camping.

I don’t understand why so many in this world fight so hard to prove they’re right. I’m sure some shrinks in the audience could explain, but I still don’t understand why so many need to feel spiritually superior to their brothers. You know the posture: “… well, I really do like you, and you probably are a nice person, but as much as I wish it weren’t so, you’re going to hell because you don’t believe the way I do.”

And I don’t understand the most ironically horrific of all policies: “I’ll kill you because you don’t worship God the way I do.”

Given that this is my column, I’m gonna pull rank and share what I’ve been taught:

I’ve learned that God loves all of us, and I’ve come to believe that He wants us to lead the best lives we can and act with integrity, courage and absolute faith in Him. He wants us to show-up for our religion of choice and be the best partners, parents, friends, co-workers and citizens of the world we can be.

I’ve been taught that He expects us to be humble yet appropriately assertive, and work tirelessly to be loving service to others. He rejoices when we are living our most meaningful lives, and He’d like us to do everything we can to make this world a better place.

And I don’t share the belief that there’s only one path to Heaven, nor that God requires everyone to fit through only one door.

Lately it seems like every heretic on the planet has a platform and a goal to manipulate and terrify us. And who knows? Maybe some of them are right – maybe we’re all going to hell in a hand basket.

But one way or another, I remain firm in my most basic belief:

God doesn’t play favorites.


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.