Friday, April 12, 2013

Equality #1

1) I, Jesus, am a big fan of equality but not at the expense of authority.

What would Jesus mean by such a statement? Well, for those that have ears let them hear this: No other faith...NO other faith has done even close to the same amount towards raising every human being...EVERY human being to a place of honor and respect and equality as Christianity. It's just a fact. Go and study it for yourself. Don't take this ol' history major's word for it, but know that it is a simple fact.

In Jesus' day, women were second class, children were to be seen (sometimes) and heard only when spoken to or old enough to have the right to speak. And slaves...yes there were tons of slaves. Slaves from war, slaves from economics, slaves based on race...tons of slaves. Racism? Absolutely. Elitism? Without a doubt. Class warfare? Of course. And then one day there was the sound of a baby crying and the world began to change.

In our day, we hold up the virtues of tolerance and equality as our ultimate goals. We as a culture honestly believe that if we would just be tolerate of everyone and everything and if all people in all places would be allowed to be equal in every way possible then we will reach some sort of utopia and peace will reign forever and always.

So have we, in our day, reached the point that Jesus' birth was pointing to? Have we arrived on the edge of the great change that His life, ministry, death, and resurrection all pointed towards? No. We have not.

We do not just hold up tolerance and equality as goals. They are our modern day gods. It is they that we seek after with all of our hearts. And in so doing we take a good and make it an evil (as C.S.Lewis so rightly notes) by placing it above the giver of the good.

We must understand that equality as Jesus saw it, lived it, practiced it (see the woman at the well in the Gospel of John chapter 6), and taught it (see the woman caught in adultery, also in John chapter 8) did not in any way eliminate or compromise authority. Jesus said "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's." Why? Why didn't he just say, "Keep for yourself what you make because Caesar is no better than you. He is no less than you. He is your equal. All are equal in every possible way before God." Jesus didn't say that because it wasn't what he was about. He wasn't negating authority. He was establishing equality.

Whee we try to equalize all people at the expense of authority, then we undermine all of society. When we try to force authority at the expense of equality then we undermine society. Jesus understood this (I mean He is God so that is understandable) yet we struggle with getting this balance right. In Jesus' day, equality was not a virtue is was a vice. It was a weakness. It was a failing. Jesus and the followers of Jesus after His resurrection changed all that. Equality became a virtue of the Church. Once someone becomes a follower of Jesus. Their very self worth becomes equalizes with every other follower of Jesus. There is no person that is better than any other person in the family of God (See Paul's letter to the Galatins chapter 3 verses 27-29).

Yet within the equality that Jesus has paid for on the cross remains authority. It is God and God alone who is the supreme and final authority but under His rule God places people, gifts people, calls people to different levels of leadership, different styles of life, different occupations and jobs. To not have this sense of authority within the contexts of Christ bought equality is to not understand the reality of sin. For Jesus did not come to die on a cross to make us all equal. He came to deal with sin and the author of sin. And it is sin and its author that longs for authority to be supreme and equality to be destroyed. Such a corruption God would not and will not tolerate but neither will he tolerate a society in which all authority is stripped away because it is not God that would be destroyed in such a society. It is humanity.

Humanity would fail because equality without authority is unsustainable without the power of God at work through His Spirit in the people He has redeemed and equalized. There is grace and there is sin. If grace does not reign in peace then sin will reign in destruction. There is no ideal world of equality and tolerance without the "confines" of authority. Such a world would be doomed from its creation because sin and the author of sin would doom it.

What is my Biblical proof for such a statement? Genesis chapters 1, 2, and 3. In the beginning God created the place we all long for. It was good. There was a man and a woman and they lived together in a most wonderful world in a most wonderful relationship with a most wonderful God. A God that walked in fellowship with them. And then the author of sin came as whispered, "Why don't you simply become just like God?" And thus sin entered the world as Adam and Eve sought to become equal with God and deny His authority. So you see, we don't have to look very far in the history of humanity to find that equality without authority is a very dark place. And, if we are real honest with ourselves, we know that on our own we have the same craving of authority and control our ancestors did.

So let's stop kidding ourselves and pretending that we have advanced to some new and great place. We aren't in the days of Jesus anymore but our day isn't a whole lot further along.

Jesus is a big fan of equality but not at the expense of authority.

Let the comments begin...

Chris