Is God Fair?

God's Love

We’ve all been told that God loves us.

When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, He told them to ask God to “give us this day our daily bread” – and we’ve learned to trust that God will do that. One of my friends on Facebook recently posted the words: “God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7) My Hindu friends believe in “karma,” and many Christians have adopted the teachings of “karma” as a way of pointing toward divine justice. After all, “good people” go to Heaven and “bad people” go to Hell. Right?

But, what if I told you that God is NOT fair, and that we should be happy about that?

In this week’s message, “Is God Fair?”, we’re going to focus upon a story that Jesus told a long time ago and that we can still read in Matthew 20:1-16. It’s the story of a landowner who hires some people to pick his grapes. Some of the workers worked 12 hours in the scorching heat, and others only worked for 9 hours. Still others worked for 6 hours, and yet others only worked in the vineyard for 3 hours. And then, there were people who stood at the “One Day’s Work” office all day and only worked for 1 hour. And at the end of the day – when the whistle blows – the landowner calls all of the workers to come to the pay station and he pays them ALL the exact same amount of money!

And that’s not fair!

And, not surprisingly, the workers didn’t think that it was fair either! And they stuck out their lower lips and complained. They moaned and groaned until the landowner zapped them between the eyes with the most important words of the story: “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me?” (Matthew 20:16) And, as we listen to these words, we’re invited to see God face-to-face.

Here, we see a God who “unfairly” allows the sun to shine and the rain to fall on both the just and the unjust. Here, we see a God who “unfairly” allows people to prosper and have nice things whether they’re sitting in a church pew on Sunday morning – or cheering for their kids at a soccer game. Here, we see a God who “unfairly” forgives people who have done things in life that I can’t imagine doing. Here, we see a God who “unfairly” chooses to step outside of the realm of karma and divine justice, and give people things that they clearly don’t deserve in any way.

And that’s not fair!

But, in all honesty, I have to admit that I like what this story tells me about God!

The landowner in this famous story challenges me to see the God who richly blesses me and who fills my life with good things even when I’m not always as good and deserving as other people. I see the God who sent His own Son into the world to die on the Cross because He wants me to go to Heaven – even though I don’t really deserve it. I’m clearly challenged to think about what I truly believe is “fair” – and, when it’s all said and done, I walk away celebrating the fact that God DOESN’T always give me exactly what I deserve. I don’t always sow good seeds. The “Law of Karma” sounds good – until you sit down and begin to count your mistakes and misdeeds. And then….

“Is God Fair?”

Jesus bluntly tells us that the answer to that question is clearly, “No!” And for that, we can rejoice and sing and praise the Lord!

Read Through the Bible – Week 22

prayer-page

“Read Through the Bible” is designed to help you to journey through God’s Word over the course of a year. Unlike other Bible reading programs, “Read Through the Bible” is not built upon the concept of beginning to read the Bible in the book of Genesis and reading straight through to the end of Revelation. It’s easy to get bogged-down in Biblical books like Leviticus and become discouraged enough to stop reading. “Read Through the Bible” has been created to help you to experience reading through the Bible in a different way.

This week, we’re going to begin Saint Paul’s letter to the Galatians – a rather complex and theologically rich book that was written to eradicate doctrinal errors.

You’ll see Saint Paul proclaiming that his apostleship is genuine. Saint Paul, then, goes on to talk about the importance of the Cross of Christ – arguing against the Jews. One of the main points that Saint Paul will make is that a “right” relationship with God is based on believing in Jesus – and is not built upon the foundation of “making points” with God by behaving in the “right way.” In this brief letter, St. Paul forever settles the questions that we might have about the relationship between faith in Jesus and building a relationship with God upon the Law of Moses.

And so, as you begin Saint Paul’s letter to the Galatians, you might want to ask yourself: How do I know that I’m “right” with God? You might, also, want to ask yourself: What is the difference between being a Christian and being a Buddhist or a Hindu? Am I building my relationship with God upon a pile of “good deeds” and accomplishments in order to somehow impress God, or am I trusting in Jesus who told me that He is the way, the truth, and the life? (John 14:6)

Here are next week’s readings:

Sunday: Galatians 1-3 – Monday: Exodus 33-36 – Tuesday: 1 Kings 1-4 – Wednesday: Psalms 63-65 – Thursday: Proverbs 1 – Friday: Jeremiah 47-52 – Saturday: Luke 7-8

Blessings!