As opposite as the two sides of the “gay debate” may appear to be on the surface, I believe that there is a common thread woven deep in the hearts and minds of both groups of people. And this deeply embedded thread, in my opinion, is an idolatrous infatuation with homosexuality.
I’m starting to realize, through God’s continuous and gracious revealing, that one of biggest idols in my life is my desire to be preferred. I always want be everyone’s option A—not option B, C or D. I want to be the first person someone wants to call when they have exciting (or even bad) news. I want to be the first person people think of when they consider who they can confide in. I want to be the first one people come to when they need any kind of help. I want to be known by the people I love and even the people I barely know as the most responsible, the most committed, the most understanding, the friendliest, the most relatable, the wisest, the most enjoyable—-I want to always be the preferred.
Most of the qualities I listed are good qualities, even godly qualities. I want to strive hard in God’s grace to be trustworthy, responsible, kind, understanding, wise and easy to be around. But my problem lies in the mental tantrum I can be prone to throw when I’m not viewed as possessing these qualities, or not viewed as possessing these qualities to the degree that someone else does. Many times when I see that I’ve been passed up or overlooked—or not preferred—a jealous anger rises up in my chest and it takes every ounce of strength I have not to vocally express it. I strain to appear kind on the surface and even will pretend to rejoice over someone else being honored or spoken well of in place of me. But inwardly I’m filled with bitterness and resentment.
I don’t feel this way all of the time. Sometimes I do genuinely rejoice in the gifting and talents that God has bestowed in other people more heavily than He has in me. Sometimes I really do find joy in seeing other people’s wisdom and knowledge and trustworthiness noticed and honored. But I loathe the times that this isn’t the case—which is frequently. For months I’ve been trying to discern what my bitterness and jealousy toward others is rooted in… and this morning I feel the Lord impressed on my heart the words, “You always want to be preferred.” I truly believe this is the case.
Now that I’m aware of the cause of my ill feelings toward others—- how do I fight it? This constant desire to be preferred? Primarily, I think I need to keep in sight how this idol contradicts the effect the gospel should be having on my life. In Christ, God affirms me and prefers me. He tells me that I’m one of His chosen—selected from before the foundation of the world to receive not wrath for my sin, but great forgiveness, grace, gifts and glory in its place. God the Father was not obligated to save me. He singlehandedly, according to His good pleasure, chose me. (see Ephesians 1&2; Romans 8,9&10)
God in the gospel is gargantuously affirming of who I am—not because of anything I’ve done (I’ve done nothing in my flesh to deserve His affirmation), but because He’s chosen to be a Father to me. Everyone knows a good father continually and expressively communicates to his kids that they are loved, desired and special in his eyes—even preferred. God is the Father of all fathers. He does this now and will do this forever in more intensely loving ways than I could ever conjure up. He will find ways in the eternity of ages to come to communicate to all of His children His deep and lasting love— and even preference— for us.
Mentally basking in God’s affection and demonstration of love for us (most demonstratively portrayed in the Cross) is a pride-slaying weapon most definitely capable of warring against the sinful passion of feeling the need to be preferred by people. There are always going to be people who are going to have more appealing personalities, higher levels of wisdom and knowledge, greater gifts and talents—and God loves and affirms these people no more firmly than He does you or me. And while realizing this, we must also remember that it is He who grants all people their gifts and graces (and the levels of each) and we should rejoice when we see those active in other people’s lives—-especially when those gifts are being fanned into flame by God for His purposes of spreading His grace!
May God give us all (especially me) grace to rest in His love and preference toward us…. and to be okay with not always being preferred by people.
From cover to cover, we see in the Scriptures God’s bound and determined purpose to exalt Himself in the world in His justice, His righteousness, His graciousness, His faithfulness, His goodness—just to name a few. An unbelieving friend of mine said last week, “That seems pretty selfish.” I see his perspective and point. It would be incredibly selfish if we, finite creatures, were to go about our days making much of ourselves (and we do). But God is not subject to the laws of humility that humanity is. We have to remember that while God has made us in His image and after His likeness, He is still Something completely different from us. He is far higher and greater, in every essence, than humanity. God is the ultimate reality, and all other realities—like humanity— are completely dependent on Him for existence and sustenance.
I’m not sure of the exact moment that I understood all of the essential truths of the gospel. And I’m not sure of the date and time when I sincerely turned in faith toward Christ on the foundation of understanding those truths. But I do remember that on September 7, 2010, a Christian friend text me a P4CM spoken word video and after watching that video (and after months of the Lord bringing me to a place of humble brokenness), God began writing the story of my personal Exodus.