How would you define the word: “Fair”?
I suspect that we’d define the word “fair” in a lot of different ways. Some of us would say that it’s “fair” when good people go to Heaven and bad people go to Hell. Some of us build our lives around the Protestant Work Ethic – believing that success and happiness in life (even eternal salvation) are based upon hard work, dedication, thrift and determination. Some who embrace the Prosperity Gospel believe that financial blessing and our physical well-being are the will of God; and that our faith, positive speech patterns, and donations to religious causes will eventually increase our material wealth.
I’ve learned that life isn’t always “fair.”
Is it “fair” when a young mother is killed in an automobile accident, or when a child dies from brain cancer? Is it “fair” that God equally sends rain upon the just and the unjust? Are poverty and homelessness “fair” in a society where some people amass tremendous fortunes; and is it “fair” when people lose their homes (and are forced into bankruptcy) because of an unexpected and undeserved illness that sent them to a hospital?
Many pastors are criticized for being too political every time they try to address an issue in society that exists because life isn’t “fair.” Whether we want to admit it or not, poverty is not God-ordained. Homelessness in America exists because people who live their lives in positions of power continue to create systems that ensure that some people will rise to the top (themselves) and others will never have that chance. Hunger isn’t being created by a lack of food – it’s caused by poor distribution and use of food (think about that the next time you throw food in the garbage). The Bible’s filled with condemnations that are directed at the powerful, and the Sacred Story speaks of a Great Day when God’s going to turn everything upside down. Mary once proclaimed that God will fill the hungry with good things and send the rich away empty. (Luke 1:53). Jesus once said that the poor, the mourning, the humble, the hungry and thirsty, and the persecuted are “blessed” in the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus, also, said that there’s no such thing as being a disciple without bearing the Cross; and, sometimes, bearing the Cross calls us, as God’s people, to live our lives of faith – “Striving for Justice and Peace”.
We can’t get around the fact that Jesus stirred people’s nests and stepped on people’s toes. Jesus spoke to the “wrong” kinds of people. He touched lepers. He lived among sinners and outcasts, and called religious leaders of His time (people who enjoyed their positions of power) “white-washed tombs.” Jesus was not afraid to be political. Jesus (and all of the prophets who lived before Him) spoke-out and condemned human-created systems that trap people in difficult positions that they cannot escape. And, Jesus also calls us (modern day disciples and followers of Christ) to take-up our Cross by putting skin in the game, by “Striving for Justice and Peace” in all the earth, and by speaking on behalf of those who don’t have a voice of their own – even when it costs us something like our reputation, or our job, or even our life.
This week, we’re called to remember that, when the Reign of God breaks into the world, the “way things are” is challenged by the “way things could be.” When the Reign of God breaks into the world, justice will roll down like mighty waters and righteousness will gush from the ground like an ever-flowing stream…!
Discipleship is not for the faint-of-heart. Bearing the Cross and “speaking to power” have never been easy. And yet, we must remember that we can’t be disciples of Christ without being filled with the passion-creating fire of the Holy Spirit that sends us into the world to change it – “Striving for Justice and Peace” in all the earth.