Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism.”
The bus was crowded. But it was a good kind of crowded. The bus was full of young Christians on their way to a weekend retreat. There were smiles. There was laughter. There were the happy sounds of people getting re-acquainted or getting acquainted for the first time.
But then there was the young man sitting on an aisle seat about a third of the way from the front. He looked to be in his twenties. His hair was a bit greasy. He had forgotten to shave. His clothes were shabby and carried a faint whiff of dried sweat. His body language oozed with awkwardness. Clearly he seemed uncomfortable to be there. For the most part he kept his head down and said nothing.
And how did those around him react? They were pleasant, and they were polite. But it was the kind of pleasant politeness that we have all seen at one time or another. It was the kind of pleasant politeness that looked past him, that looked through him—the kind of pleasant politeness that quietly dismissed him.
The bus arrived at the retreat. Everyone piled out, retrieved their luggage, found their rooms. Later they all gathered for their first big meal together. The food was delicious. And now it was time for the keynote speaker. The printed program said that he would give a compelling presentation on the subject of favoritism. From behind a small curtain the speaker emerged. It was the awkward, shabby man on the bus. Only he wasn’t awkward and shabby anymore. Instead he was clean-shaven, well-dressed, gracious, and smiling. But before he said a word he had already made his point. And no one who had ridden with him on that bus would ever forget it.
In this broken, sinful world full of broken, sinful people, each of us gets a turn at feeling like the awkward, shabby outsider. When that happens, think about two things. First, thank and praise your Lord that he does not show favoritism. He loves you and accepts you completely in the blood of his Son. Second, remember that the time will quickly come when an awkward, shabby outsider will cross paths with you. When that time arrives, treat that person as your Lord has treated you.
Heavenly Father, forgive my sins of favoritism. Wash me in the blood of your Son. Thank you for embracing me in Jesus. Empower me to treat the outsiders in my life with love. Amen.
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