Friday, April 30, 2010

"In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality." (Acts 10.34)

During the Paschal Season (the fifty days between Easter and Pentecost) the Orthodox Christian Church reads daily from the Book of Acts. In Acts we get a glimpse of life in the ancient Church and witness how the Holy Apostles guided the first Christians into a relationship with Jesus Christ and each other. We see two things, among a host of others, from the very beginning of the Christian Church: daily Worship and Fellowship. (Acts 2.46) This is one reason we have worship services in the church almost every day and why I so much look forward to a cup of coffee with others.

We also see in Acts that thousands were entering the Church based upon the witness of the daily life of the Apostles and first Christians. (Acts 2.47)But it became painfully clear that some already in the Church had no desire to allow new members especially Gentiles to enter the Church. To address this, Saint Peter, a leader among the Apostles, said, “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” (Acts 10.34) But it wasn’t until Saint Paul’s missionary efforts that the Church truly spread to every nation of the Gentiles.

Our contemporary society is just the opposite. Our governmental system, our charitable system, even our social system, shows partiality. Every day we make decisions based upon whether the result is in our best interest or how we can best advance. We even socialize only with those members of society who will help us get ahead. Online communities such as Facebook and Myspace are saturated with people making “connections” or “networking” for a better position or social status. The most dangerous showing of partiality is in connection with our nation’s foreign policy. As a nation, we befriend and unfriend other nations at the whim of the current resident in the White House just for political gain. And what is the cost of rampant partiality?

Rampant crime, poverty, bigotry, sexism, and many other vices all feed on our selfish pride as human beings. When we cannot look past a weakness in our fellow human beings just because it will hold us back or keep our progress back, our partiality will cripple us. It should be no surprise that our economic system is collapsing around us because unfettered selfishness cannot continue indefinitely. The solution, contrary to what the United States Congress wants us to believe, is not more governmental involvement, but a relationship with Jesus Christ and each other. When the government inserts itself and takes from one to give to another, it too shows partiality, playing the role of a god, altering the players but not the game. And the pendulum continues to swing back and forth.

Everyone is equal in the eyes of God who shows no partiality. What a refreshing breeze it would be if we lived the same way. Let’s begin with fellowship. Next time you see me enjoying a cup of coffee, join me…I’m not partial. Only then can we begin to know each other.

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