Funny word, partiality: I see it as a "leaning toward" someone, something or some ideal. It isn't quite prejudice, or perhaps that is just a question of word choice? It is preferring one thing over another, clearly; but does it mean exclusion or rejection of that other?
That is the big question today. In II Samuel, David is on the run from Absalom's rebellion. Dozens of old grudges and resentments, along with the tensions between Bathsheba's son and the king have acted like an accelerant on the continually smoldering embers of conflict that seem woven into the very fabric of David's rule. Intrigues abound, with faithful advisers to the king defecting to the usurper and the king installing his own sleepers in Jerusalem, that he might keep tabs on the rebellion.
|David mourns the death of his son, the rebellious Absalom|
|Peter in fellowship with Cornelius|
Partiality...in one case it is a very limiting concept, and becomes a goad driving the people of Israel into civil war. To whom is God partial, in the conflict between David and Absalom? In another case it is a lever that opens the door of the assembly to people who until moments before were not really welcomed. To whom is God partial in Christ? To Israel, or to all the nations? In the former case, God seems to be sorting out the human conflicts engendered by jealousy, rage, resentment and fear. In the latter, God is using this characteristic through Peter to demonstrate the radical welcome we are all to express as we proclaim Christ. When overcome, partiality leads to a holy state that raises up ALL in fellowship and helps us to see each other less as "other" and more as the beloved of God.