I wonder what Newfoundlanders think of the name of the game Angry Birds.
‘Bird’ is, of course, Newfie slang for a particular, ahem, item, and the thought of a livid ‘one of these’ could either produce hilarity or horror – depending on who was doing the thinking.
Angry Birds (the game) is on my mind these days because I’ve become something of an addict (of the game) in recent months. My kids gave me an iPhone for Father’s Day, and I’ve wasted many moments in the ensuing weeks engaged in this silly little activity (the game).
Not that I’m surprised.
I’m still a recovering video game junkie from my pre-teen years (Take THAT, you stupid fygar! [I dare you to name the game in the Comments below]), so it was predictable that I’d be drawn to the Video Game Console facet of the device like a bald, chubby moth to a flame. I also knew I’d like the Music Player, Organizer, Camera and Mobile Web Browser, etc. (although I think Siri is a bit of a stuck-up crab).
But one thing I didn’t expect my iPhone to be is a Spiritual Tool.
It sure is, though! (Takes one to know one, I guess.)
In addition to playing sermon podcasts just like my old, second-generation iPod Nano did (In my day, four gigabytes was all we had and it was all we wanted. That’s the way it was and we liked it, you whippersnappers!), but that’s just the beginning.
My daughter, who’s an App Store veteran, steered me toward YouVersion – the Bible app she uses. (Yeah, my daughter has the Bible on her iPod and/or iPhone. [Best dad ever!]. Hmm, yeah, my 13-year-old daughter has an iPod and an iPhone. [Worst dad ever!])
Anyway, YouVersion provides access to more than a dozen English translations of God’s Word (yes, it does seem odd that we anglophones need more than a dozen versions, doesn’t it?) – some are available for download so you can use them wherever you are, others you only access online. But best of all, you can even listen to multiple versions of the Bible using this app.
A number of voiceover guys spent weeks (months?) going through the entire text, from Genesis to Revelation, with the tape rolling, just so I could study the Bible while driving, folding laundry or cutting the grass. (I imagine the Bibles on CD industry is taking a bit of a hit these days, though.) I’ve only just discovered this feature, but I finished listening to Luke this week and am now working my way through First and Second Samuel.
YouVersion also offers daily devotionals – you read a short passage from the Bible (usually just one verse), then a couple of paragraphs from the devotional’s authors, fleshing out an important truth about God and/or His people. I’m using the Active Word Daily Devotional myself (there are plenty of others; I grabbed this one pretty much at random), and am quite enjoying it. Taking on a daily devotional has always been on my to-do list, but I’ve never really gotten around to it. I’ve studied the Word in a number of other ways, of course, but this technique is one I’ve never made time for in the past.
It’s going well, but today, I had a bone to pick with the devotioners.
Based on Deuteronomy 10:17 – For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. (TNIV) – the authors focused on God’s impartiality.
“We’re referring to His total lack of prejudice or favoritism. In God’s eyes, one person is just as valued and important as another,” they wrote.
They then cited Matthew 22:16 – They (Pharisees) sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are.” (TNIV)
‘Even Jesus’ enemies recognized that He didn’t play favorites,’ the authors wrote.
I see where they’re going, and I agree they have a point, but I think they’re wrong.
I think He does play favorites. What’s more, I’m certain that I’m His favorite.
And so are you.
Continuing the referee metaphor (refaphor?), God didn’t just give us the benefit of the doubt on a couple of questionable calls. He didn’t merely look the other way to help us squeak out a victory against an otherwise unbeatable foe. He ejected our opponents from the game, took their place on the court and then let us walk all over Him, never trying to take the ball for us or calling us out for even our most heinously flagrant fouls. And He made no secret about any of it. And because He’s not only the referee and took on the role of the opposing team, He’s also the NBA Commissioner and owner of every team in the league, He was completely within His rights to do it!
That’s not impartial, folks. It’s the opposite of impartial – and the fact that He’s equally partial to every human being who ever lives, has ever lived or ever will lived, doesn’t make it impartial. Sure, He’s levelled the playing field (switching to a baseball metaphor now), but He’s done it, not by smoothing out the mountains and filling in the valleys so everything’s medium, but by raising both the lowest and highest elevations all the way to Heaven.
No, I think ‘impartial’ does that concept a profound disservice.
But so does ‘partial’ – for reasons already beaten to death above, and because, shifting to another meaning of the word ‘partial,’ His grace is far from being a half-measure. Maybe when you’re as blatantly, overwhelmingly, unabashedly, universally partial as our God, we need to flip to that other meaning and take its opposite.
As in, ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.’ – Revelation 22:13 (TNIV)
God isn’t just partial to you, friends. He’s total to you.
Peace be with you.