When my kids were little they used to ask me, “Who do you like best?”
There’s really no way to answer that. How can you say, “Some days you and some days your sister”?
Or: “Neither of you when you’re fighting with each other over hair scrunchies.”
Even the standard “I like both of you equally” doesn’t satisfy a child’s question about who’s Mom’s favorite.
As a parent, I know that if the house was on fire and I could save only one child, I couldn’t choose. Thankfully, that has never happened so I’ve never had to choose one over the other.
But my daughters weren’t interested in hypothetical life or death favoritism, but the everyday “Who do you like best?”
One day we were in the market. Laura was about 7 when she said in great earnestness, “Mom. You have to pick this time. Who do you like best?”
In a rare moment of wisdom I told her, “Of all my kids 7 and under, I like you the best, and of all my kids over 7 I like your sister the best.”
It’s a good thing I only have two kids.
Then she asked, “What about Dad? Do you like him better than us?”
“Well, of all the people I’m married to, I like him best,” I said, “and I’ve already told you which kid I like best.”
“What about God,” she asked. “Do you like him better than us?”
“Well,” I said, “of all the people in heaven, I like God best. Of all the people I’m married to ….”
Then she asked, “Can I have a dollar for gum?”
Kids! What was God thinking when he invented them?
I was thinking about my daughter’s question the other day when I came across a fake news story on the Christian satire Web site, LarkNews.com. It was about a man in Minnesota, Bill Halberstam, who had been identified by theologians as “God’s new favorite person on the planet, the latest in a line that reaches all the way back to John the Beloved (disciple).”
The satirical story said that in every age God chose a particular person as his very favorite. At one time it was a house church pastor in China, and before him it was a cleaning woman in Uruguay.
As the favorite dies, God chooses a new one. Currently, it’s Bill Halberstam.
It’s a ridiculous story, but that’s what satire is.
Still, it speaks to a need within each of us — Do I matter? Am I somebody’s favorite? Who likes me best?
The apostle Peter said God isn’t a “respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34). He doesn’t discriminate. He accepts murderers and thieves and goody two shoes all the same.
But does he play favorites?
I think he does. I think he likes me best.
“How precious are your thoughts about me,” wrote the psalmist. “They cannot be numbered.”
See? God thinks lots of thoughts about me. Not only that, God also has my name written on his hand, and he wrote it in indelible, permanent ink.
Of course, he also thinks countless thoughts about you, too, and everyone else whom he considers his child.
God has your name tattooed on his palm, too.
The truth is, in Christ, we’re all God’s favorites. Favoritism by proxy.
Here’s how it works: God likes Jesus the very best, as his sinless, only Son; that just makes sense.
But then Jesus shares his status as the favorite one with us.
The theological term is “imputed.” It’s ours because it was given to us.
Just as we have Christ’s imputed righteousness, we have imputed favoritism, too. Like imputed righteousness, our role as God’s favorite is not based on what we do, but to whom we belong.
We each matter to God. He likes each of us best.
Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria - I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927, Monday through Thursday, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.