God’s favor: Spiritual truth or egoic oxymoron?

favor-nehemiahI frequently hear others claim that they have God’s favor. It compels me to ask: Since favoritism isn’t fair, why do we think God does it?

Is God’s favor a spiritual truth or an egoic oxymoron? It seems that humans have always declared themselves “chosen” or “favored” by their god. Some even have written that God told them that they were favored. Fascinating stuff.

We love to feel special, don’t we? And we love to feel more loved than anyone else. It makes us feel safer in a scary world in which threats lurk around many corners and everything is constantly deteriorating, dying—or both.

What favor implies

As with other beliefs we hold about the Divine, we don’t consider the implications. We’ve agreed that there’s just one God, yet we impose regional and cultural restrictions on One who cannot be confined to a culture or region. Can we really win favor with the Almighty because of what we do, how and how much we worship, and what rules we obey when practices considered sacred in one culture are sacrilegious in another?

God's favor can turn everything aroundWhich part of the One God are we offending and which part are we serving? Which part favors us because of our particular practices?

Cue up the Superior Dance music

This “God’s favor” concept fulfills our egoic need to feel superior: “God gives us attention and blessings,” we sing, thumbing our noses. “God gives us whatever we want: great jobs, homes, cars and perfect mates. God even helps us pass exams and win sporting contests.”

Meanwhile, millions of our siblings in other parts of the world do not even have clean water to drink. God does not favor them? What kind of God would withhold life-giving water from His child? (Please fill in the blank: ___________)

Generally, if you want favor, you have to worship God a certain way: our way. Ours is the only path leading to a god whom we’ve limited to a gender and confined to a spot in outer space.

Do you see what I see?

If we took the blinders off our I’s, we’d see billions of God’s children who’ve never heard of our path. If we dared to turn a discerning ear to the things others told us to believe, we might even wonder why God only told some of “His” children how to get back to outer space. Instead, we complain that we ordered grilled onions on our double cheeseburgers and they were raw.

Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto MeIf we had a modicum of “whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers” empathy, we might be pained that millions of our siblings are living without God’s favor, suffering through droughts, famine, civil wars, tent cities, sexual abuse and genocides. Instead, we boast that by virtue of God’s favor, we are protected from harm.

So children who are molested by pedophiles are not favored? Those whose homes or homelands are destroyed by natural disasters are not favored? Babies born in war-torn or famine-stricken areas are not favored? Women worldwide who are victimized by rape and other abuses are not favored?

What kind of God would protect some, but not all, of His children from these traumas? (Your answer here, please: ___________)

I asked you to fill in these blanks to encourage you to think about your beliefs, and the ways they (and you, by extension) demonize God. We claim “God is Love,” but ascribe behaviors to God that bear no resemblance to Divine Love.

Divine Love is universal. It does not reward some and harshly punish others. Divine Love does not judge or condemn, kill, crucify or cause human suffering. And oh, by the way, Divine Love is not capricious; it does not play favorites.

We hurt no one but ourselves by believing before thinking. We are so afraid of being ostracized or criticized by those who want us to blindly parrot their beliefs that we join their chorus and sing their refrains claiming that God does things Love would not.

We’ve done this for centuries; we can stop at any time. We can start by examining the concept of God’s favor: what it implies about the god we serve—and what it implies about us, as members of the global human family.