Surfing has such a pecking order. Right at the top is the accomplished sponsored rider or local legend who has the adoration of their community. Throughout the middle, a range of surfers of varying ability finds their place. Then there’s the bottom of the food chain, the struggling beginner or bodyboarder.
You know how it goes. The waters literally part in favour of the elite and they close for the weak or struggling. One gets way more of their share and another only frustration and rejection. Then there is the restless movement up and down as a surfer improves or declines. This is how the system works.
But God is not into this! One of the defining features of His way of relating is belonging not based on worldly performance, status, or discrimination.
James 2:1–3 calls us to consider the following about favouritism and community:
- Jesus is our standard of behaviour. He is the ultimate example of someone who has humbled themselves in order to actually benefit others. “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges: he took the humble position of a slave…” Philippians 2:6–7. Jesus does not ask us to do anything He has not first modelled Himself. He is our standard.
- Community is how Jesus’ ways are lived out. How can we possibly claim to be following Jesus if we favour some people at the expense of others? It is not enough to know the will of God or even the Word of God. We must walk in the ways of God. Living out God’s design of community is a great test of whether we truly know Him. How inspiring and refreshing is it when someone at the “top” of the surfing chain acknowledges others “below” them and helps create a more equitable line-up! It is a taste of heaven and worth living up to.
- We have either Jesus’ motives or evil motives. There are no other alternatives. We can justify our behaviour or make excuses, but at the end of the day, discrimination based on social standing or performance is an evil motive. Carefully look at the way you’re treating others. What does it say about your true motives?
Next time you’re in the line-up, will you be counter-cultural and not show favouritism but rather treat everyone with respect, even at your own expense? Try it in the surf, and then in life.