Summary: Favoritism robs us of new friends and new ministry opportunities.
WHAT MUST I DO? YOU MUST NEVER SHOW FAVORITISM
Acts 20:32 "Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have not coveted anyone's silver or gold or clothing. 34 You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' "
James 2:1 - My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. (NIV)
James 2:1 - My friends, as believers in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, you must never treat people in different ways according to their outward appearance. (Good News Translation)
The Day Scooby Doo Celebrated Christmas
For the sake of this story we will call him “Mikey” and them “First Church.”
Mikey lived in the apartment complex across from First Church. It wasn’t the nicest establishment and many in the church were afraid of its residence. Many had gone to great lengths to avoid it and certainly did not want their children playing with “those kids.” It did not take long to discover that most of the worshippers at First Church lived in a different part of the city and sent their kids to different schools than the area around the church building represented.
But then, one nice summer day things began to change. It happened just 10 minutes before Sunday School began. Nobody knew where he came from or how long he had been standing there but eventually some of the greeters saw this eight year old boy standing in the middle of the foyer, a few feet from the donuts and coffee, and with a huge grin on his face that spread from ear to ear.
“Hi!” said the greeter, “What’s your name?”
“My name is Mikey,” he said with a big grin still on his face.
“Well, Mikey, it’s good to meet you. Have you been here before?”
“Nope. My mommy and me moved in across the street and I told her I wanted to come to church. She said she didn’t care so here I am!” Again, with the contagious smile.
“Is your mommy here too?”
“Nope. She’s asleep. She told me I better not wake her so I didn’t.”
The greeter quickly discerned that Mikey was used to taking care of himself. The greeter offered Mikey a donut; which he promptly devoured, and then the greeter took him to Sunday School. Mrs. Allen was very happy to see Mikey although some of the kids seemed a bit nervous. After Sunday School Mikey sat with Mrs. Allen and her family. Mikey liked Mrs. Allen; she was nice to him.
The next Sunday, 10 minutes before Sunday School, Mikey was again standing in the foyer with a great big grin. Again, the greeter helped him with some breakfast and again he was escorted into Mrs. Allen’s Sunday School class. But this time Mikey informed the greeter that he knew where his class was so the greeter just sort of tagged along to make sure he didn’t take a wrong turn at Albuquerque.
This went on week after week. Rain? No problem, Mikey was there. The weather turned colder? Still not a deterrent – Mikey was there.
A couple of months went by. Mrs. Allen and others were not able to connect with Mikey’s mom – they didn’t try too hard because “that place” scared them – but Mikey’s mom was not making it easy either.
Mikey overheard an announcement in Church about the children’s Christmas play practice. Now this was a big deal at First Church. The Christmas play even had its own budget line item in the church’s annual budget. There were a lot of kids and they got to showcase their singing and acting skills in front of the whole congregation on a Sunday morning. For some, this was sort of an audition; the youth workers had picked up some pretty good talent for their travelling youth ministry team through past plays. First Church had a lot of talent. And then there was Mikey.
Right in the middle of church, Mikey turned to Mrs. Allen and asked if he could be in the Christmas play! Mrs. Allen hesitated. She was not looking forward to introducing Mikey to the adults overseeing this ministry. For Mikey to sit with her in church was okay but for him to be assimilated into other children’s activities was going to be a challenge.
Mrs. Allen found it more than a little ironic when Mikey was told that “There just wasn’t any room for him in the pageant. All the parts were filled. Even the animal costumed parts were taken.” But, Mikey’s desire coupled with that big grin gave the Holy Spirit some wiggle room in the hearts of the children’s ministry team even if God was going to have to work through their fear and prejudices. When Mikey heard about the animal costumes his eyes brightened up and he said, “I have a costume! I have a dog costume that I used a few weeks ago for Halloween!”