Thursday, October 23, 2008

Life Isn't Fair

Last Sunday, I had the difficult task of leading the Woodward Park family through Peter's comments on submission in 2.13-25. At the heart of Peter's words are an encouragement for the people of God to live according their true identity as the called out. As citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, God's people live as an alternative to the ways of the world.

And there are times that this calling is fundamentally unfair.

But life as a child of God isn't about what's fair. Never has been. Never will be.

For instance, is grace fair? Is it fair that a confessing criminal dying at Jesus' side is afforded the same eternal reward as Stephen, James, Paul and Peter who gave their very lives for their faith?

Grace isn't fair. If it were, then neither you nor I would have a whimper of a chance of ever seeing the face of God.

That truth must impact the way disciples of Jesus handle injustice. In the face of injustice, Jesus didn't demand his disciples fight for what was fair. It wasn't fair for him to be arrested, tried and crucified. Peter unsheathed a sword that night in Gethsemane to fight for what he thought was fair. His Savior had done nothing to deserve such an unfair plight. But Jesus calmly instructed Peter to put the sword down because the means of the Kingdom run counter to the strategies of the world.

Peter says it is to this we, as disciples of Jesus, are called. Our calling is not to respond in kind by fighting fire with fire, but to respond as Jesus did, i.e. by turning the other cheek.

Is it fair? No. But siding with Jesus on the side of grace means that we face the unfairness of life with hope -- that confident expectation that God will do as God has promised.

God has promised to one day settle the score. God has promised, in God's sovereignty, to exact justice for the injustices of this world. It is our calling as disciples of Jesus to rest in the assurance that God is true to His Word.

Here's how Peter's colleague, the Apostle Paul, puts it: "Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written, 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord. On the contrary: 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink...Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12.16-21).