“But that’s not fair!”
These are words I expect to hear from my young grandchildren … not words I expect to hear from adults, let alone mature Christians. But I hear them nonetheless.
“We can’t appoint Frank to an elder’s position … he doesn’t participate in any adult faith formation groups.”
“But that’s not fair …”
“We have to remove Becka from leadership. Her parking lot meetings are undermining the council’s decisions.”
“But that’s not fair …”
For most folks, the discovery that life isn’t fair becomes crystal clear before puberty. However, too many Christians are stuck in a prepubescent spiritual state when it comes to the realities of the faith. Let me share a secret with you:
God doesn’t play “fair,” at least by human measures of fairness. And by extension, the Bible, Jesus, and Christianity isn’t cradled in fairness either.
Let’s bust the fairness bubble:
- Israel was the chosen nation. That means the other nations were not chosen or favored.
- Jesus didn’t heal everybody every time. Some were left in their misery.
- Jesus didn’t relieve poverty … not even once. (In fact, he reminded his disciples that there was always going to be impoverished people and in essence told them to “get over it.”)
- Jesus, and the early church, made exclusive claims regarding faith, salvation, and even membership in the “family” of God.
But perhaps the epitome of “unfairness” can be found in the Gospels and the application section of the parable of the “talents.”
26“He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. 27But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them – bring them here and kill them in front of me.’” (Luke 19:26–27)
Verse 26 seems to reflect a well-known adage that the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer. And there are no apologies made for that here. In fact, in context, there’s even a latent justification that suggests it’s “just” to take away from those who have nothing. In our world, we hear cries of protest that the system isn’t fair, that the consequences of poor choices should be mitigated. But that’s not what we read here.
If verse 26 is hard to swallow when it comes to “fairness,” then verse 27 has got to be like trying to swallow a horse. The consequence for pushing back against the would-be king isn’t just death, but revenge with a vengeance.
Contextually, the parable and the application/explanation are speaking about expectations and accountability. Indeed, the parable suggests both high expectations and potentially harsh consequences.
Expectations and Accountability. Add to those words Personal Responsibility and we have four words that the US church seem to find especially difficult to swallow, let alone applying and implementing.
And yet, that’s clearly the biblical model.
Holding church leaders and church members accountable for their words and actions … their behaviors … is critical in a culture that views the church as a flaccid institution that’s filled with hypocrisy and in-fighting.
Until the mission of the church outweighs the needs, desires, and preferences of the members; until the church is willing to take commands like Matthew 18:15–17 and applications like 1 Corinthians 5:12–13 seriously; it will continue to flounder under the illusion … under the delusion … that life and the Kingdom of God is “fair.”