By Rev. O.L. Johnson
Christianity is unique among the religious movements of the world because it is not a religion. By definition, a religion is a set of beliefs formed and agreed upon by a number of persons; in other words, religion is man-made, while Christianity finds its roots in the son of God, Jesus Christ.
Christianity stresses relationships between God and his people. The foundation of that relationship is the solemn covenant that God has made with all believers. God has promised to be our God if we will be his obedient people. That’s the covenant in a nutshell.
It seems pretty simple, but being the imperfect folks that we are, we stumble and put a big crack in our individual relationships with God. Often that crack is caused by sin, and through our sin, we are in a damaged relationship with him that can only be repaired by repentance. There is, however, another scenario that’s just as damaging, but where sin is not the culprit.
If you listen long enough to teachers and preachers, sooner or later you will hear this sentiment; “God is no respecter of persons. What he’s done for me, he’ll do for you.” This sounds really good to the listener if the topic of discussion is material prosperity. Who wouldn’t want to hear and believe that?
Many people do believe it, and when it doesn’t happen, they blame God and begin to believe that he can’t be trusted to live up to his promises. The result is a busted relationship with God in the mind of that person. This same result can occur in other contexts when one’s level of biblical knowledge convinces us that we can expect something from God he has not promised.
Therein lies the culprit — ignorance of the word of God. So, allow me to offer a bit of enlightenment on this issue of God’s impartiality in light of the message we’re talking about. As I researched this idea of God being no respecter of persons, I found seven scriptures wherein he is described as such in the Bible.
In case you decide to check me out, here they are: Deuteronomy 10: 17, 2Chronicles 19: 7; Romans 2: 11, Ephesians 6: 9, Colossians 3: 25, 1Peter 1: 17, and Acts 10: 34.
I studied these verses for context to see whether any of them speak about things material. Six of them do not. The remaining verse, Ephesians 6: 9, is the only one that even hints at material blessings.
The context of the verse is that whoever does “good” things will receive “good’’ things from God regardless of his station in life, “bond or free.” What the verse refers to may or may not be material. It’s not specific enough to make that judgment. It is inapplicable for an additional reason: the verse describes a scenario that is different than the one we find in our quote.
So, what’s the bottom line? Yes, scripture is clear that God is an impartial God, and no respecter of persons in certain specific scenarios. But scripture does not support the conclusion that because he is impartial, he will make one a rich person just because he made Abraham, or David, or Solomon rich. He’s not obligated to do so.
If there’s no sin in your life, God is not mad at you. And he would prefer that no one be mad at him based on acceptance of some alleged principle that cannot be verified scripturally. Stay in his good graces; he prefers it that way.
Rev. O.L. Johnson, a retired LAPD lieutenant, is an associate pastor in his home church, Greater New Zion Baptist, 501 W. 80th St. in South Los Angeles.
Pastor’s Corner is a religious column that looks at the relevancy of scripture in life today. The column appears monthly in The Wave and on its website, www.wavepublication.com.