Monday, November 28, 2005

Life Ain't Fair!

Over at I'm Not Crunchy!, Alice posed this question, "What do you think Jesus was more concerned about, freedom or equality?"

My answer was, "Neither":

We are inherently equal so far as our rights go. Yet Jesus wasn't so concerned about different social ranks - He taught us to come to Him from wherever we are. This isn't our real home anyway. Take a look at the issue of slavery. Jesus didn't free the slaves, nor did He consider them as lesser people. Those were not His concerns. Jesus said His mission was to seek and to save the lost. That came first. From that point, His emphasis was upon compassion, love and following Him to avoid judgment for our sins.
I've been thinking about that whole quesion over the past week. Freedom and equality -- what part do they have in God's Kingdom?

I think the key comes in defining our terms. Typically we think of freedom in the world's terms. We have freedom of religion and freedom of speech and all the others. We define equality as all at least having the same opportunities to succeed, if not all having the same thing to begin with. But that is such worldly thinking; or should I say, that's such non-Christian thinking. As I stated to Alice, Jesus' mission had little to do with freedom of association or the right to bear arms. He did not come to do away with social classes on this earth, but that seems to be a complaint of some who discount the claims of Jesus Christ.

The existance of evil is pointed to as proof of God being either false or impotent. Of course that is dealt with when we realize that God saves us from evil, not that He prevents it all from happening. But related to that objection is the idea of fairness. Certainly a God as described in the Bible would want everyone to be equal -- to possess the same amounts materially and inherently. Wouldn't that be what a God of love would desire? How does a good God who loves everyone and wants the best for everyone allow some to be filthy rich and others to be dirt poor? Or in short, why isn't life fair?

Let's get back to definitions. According to the dictionary, among the many meanings of fair the ones which concern this argument are:

1. Being in accordance with relative merit or significance: She wanted to receive her fair share of the proceeds.
2. Consistent with rules, logic, or ethics: a fair tactic.
Anybody who has lived more than a few minutes recognizes that not only is life not fair, it is also highly illogical (as Mr. Spock would put it). But then again, aren't the rules of logic man-made? Logic is all about reasoning. Ethics deal in morality, but again from man's perspective. And the relative merit or significance of our own concerns differs greatly from God's perspective to our own.

So the unfairness of life is something which is perceived by man, but not necessarily shared by God. I can watch TV and see Bill Gates, who is infintely richer than me and claim it's unfair. I can see Tim McGraw and see someone much more talented and whine that's it's not fair. I can note President Bush who is much more powerful, Brian Urlacher who is much stronger and physics researchers who are much smarter and a whole host of others who have what I would like to have.

Then I can watch and see the people of New Orleans, still trying to decide what to do with their ruined homes and possessions. I can learn about the people in Africa who are fighting a ton of diseases. And I can look around me and notice those who have run-down homes or no homes at all. Then there are the weak and sick, those who are unable to work or walk or speak or read. And I understand that this isn't fair from the world's perspective either. This also calms my cries of "Unfair!" a bit in regards to my own deficiencies. That's the thing about our blessings -- we tend to act like the things we want are much more important than the things we already have.

It's obvious that life isn't fair. We don't all have the same size bank account. Even socialism can't accomplish that without severe problems. We also are not given the same talents. Writing skills, math skills, constuction skills, artistic skills, physical skills -- we are not given equal amounts. Generally speaking, I wouldn't take my taxes to a plumber! The thing is, God tells us that this is going to be the case. He acknowledges this right up front. Jesus even told a story about three servants who were each given different amounts to take care of for their master. Worldly fairness just does not correspond with God's idea of fairness.

God wants us to use what He has given us. Those things which look so good to us from afar can often be handicaps to our relationship with Him, and to our happiness in general. Equality isn't the key. Our own perception of fairness isn't the key. It's being faithful with what we've been given.

In the same way, freedom is a laughable concept when you look at things from a Biblical worldview. We celebrate our freedom to do this and freedom to do that, but God knows that we are only free if we've been set free by Jesus Christ. Unless that happens, we are slaves to sin. Most people would deny this fact, but they'd be sadly mistaken. Just as the alcoholic claims she can quit "anytime" but lacks the strength to do it, we can't quit our sinful behavior on our own because we lack that strength. Freedom from sin is only through Christ, and even then we find ourselves creeping back toward the shackles when we think we can get away with it. What wretches we are!

If I find myself smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I have the freedom to tread water, swim the backstroke or the breast stroke or the butterfly. But no matter which I choose, I'm never going to make it to shore. I lack the strength. I have to be rescued or I have no hope. Our earthly freedoms are the same way. Unless the Truth sets us free, our earthly freedoms do us as much good as the freedom to do the side stroke or the Australian crawl.

Life ain't fair. That's apparent. We all possess different amounts of freedom, talents and material things. However, eternal life isn't fair either. God offers that to anyone -- absolutely anyone -- provided that "anyone" is willing to acknowledge the need for a Savior and accept the gift of grace and mercy. Forgiveness. It's not for those who earn it. It's not for those who deserve it. Because none of us do. And I'll take that unfairness any day.

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