As a parent of four, I’m not supposed to have a favourite child. Countless adults are still suffering the pain of knowing their brother or sister was “the favourite one”. The truth is, on a given day, any one of my four kids is probably my favourite of the bunch. They take it in turns. Sometimes it’s the best-behaved. Sometimes it’s the worst-behaved. Some days, one needs a lot more loving than another. Some days, one gives more love than the others. I once heard a speaker say “it’s ok to have favourites – but every one of your children should grow up believing he or she is the favourite.” I loved that. It’s a piece of advice I try to live by.
But when I read the Bible, it becomes really apparent that Jesus had favourites. And he didn’t try to hide it. In fact, he used every opportunity to make it obvious to onlookers where he placed his value. Read through the gospel of Luke some time and ask yourself who Jesus pays the most attention to? Spends the most time with? Seems to like the most?
The lonely. The hurting. The sick. The needy. The downtrodden. The ostracised. The neglected. The unheard. The disempowered. The outsiders. The despised. The sinners. These were Jesus’ favourites. He even explicitly said it; “the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.”
If we are Jesus’ followers, we will walk in his ways. If we are his family, we will model his values. But when I look at our model for church, I see the opposite mindset. Most churches lift up the clean-cut, well-behaved, highly moral, over-educated, cleverly spoken, physically attractive, gifted and talented – and place them on a stage as an aspirational role model. The limelight is on “the greatest of these”, where Jesus asked us to place it on “the least of these.”
The church is most powerful when she lifts up the weak, places honour on the dishonoured, gives a voice to the voiceless, meets the needs of the needy and loves the unlovable. Let’s remember who Jesus’ favourites are, and make them our favourites too.