2011 Blog Archive

Faith Moment
June 6, 2011
Preferential Treatment

The administrator of a large mental health clinic once described what he called the BYMF factor. A BYMF is a Beautiful Young Male or Female.

This administrator noted that whenever an attractive-looking young adult entered the clinic, the receptionist immediately gave that person attention and was more detailed than usual in giving directions. In the initial interview, the intake employee was also overly attentive, tending to see the attractive young adult very promptly and appearing to give extra thought to finding an appropriate match-up with a counselor. Elderly people, people who were not attractive, people who were obviously poor, or who were of a minority race got considerably less attention, were more likely to wait longer at the receptionist's desk, had a more perfunctory intake interview, and often had to wait longer to get an appointment with a counselor.

All of this happened in a place where people were committed to accepting everyone impartially and unconditionally. They would swear up and down that everyone got equal treatment regardless of race, creed, color, class, gender, or age.

However, if you have ever been or are now of the wrong race, color, class, size, gender, or age, you know that you get treated differently, and you are ignored more than people who are younger, whiter, wealthier, have straighter teeth, or are male.

It's human nature to prefer some people to others.

Often we assume that God does the same thing. I’ve had people tell me that God was much more likely to listen to my prayers since I’m a pastor. Others have said, “You pastors have it made. After all you’ve done for God, you’d really have to mess up badly to miss out on heaven.”

I respectfully disagree. God does not treat me with greater grace because I’m a pastor. I do not get preferential treatment from heaven because of service to God. God does not treat us according to the standards of earth. The apostle Peter clearly stated this in Act 10:34: “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.” God treats us all the same, since the ground is level at the foot of the cross.

In fact, if anything, God treats those with greater needs with preferential treatment. Those whose pain is greater, whose guilt is heavier, whose addiction is stronger, and whose poverty is more oppressive may actually get pushed to the front of the line. Think of how Jesus treated the woman with an issue of blood, the boy tormented by demons, or blind Bartimaeus on the road to Jericho. Jesus stepped away from the pressing crowds to provide personal, preferential treatment to these seeming outcasts.

Personally, I’m a fan of how God treats people. It lets me know that when I’ve really messed up, I don’t get shoved to the back of the line. God is always ready to hear the prayer of anyone in need, regardless of past transgressions.

With Love,

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