When something in life happens to us that goes against us, causes us a problem or seems unfair to us, we tend to complain. One might even say it is the natural response – even a “logical” response in order to demand “fairness” in the universe, no matter how arbitrary it actually is. However, when unfairness works to our advantage and for our good, we ironically have a special name for it – “answer to prayer.”
Some people say that Christianity is all about fairness, as in “good people go to heaven while bad people don’t.” Let’s be clear: this is not in the Bible. People do not go to heaven based on their “goodness.” Flipping this false teaching on its head, Jesus would not have gone to the Cross if “human goodness” was good enough.
It would be “fair” for a holy, righteous and perfect God to look upon all of us, judge us and treat us based on our imperfections as people because we have not measured up to His standards. Do we really want God to treat us based on what we deserve in life?
Remember that God knows all our mistakes, missteps, bad decisions, bad attitudes, broken promises, wrong intentions and other sins. At this point, receiving God’s unmerited favor – in other words, His mercy — to unlock a flood of His blessings into your life by giving you what you DO NOT deserve for your benefit seems like the kind of “unfairness” that is desirable as well as humbling.
The kingdom of God is based on unfairness – unfair to our benefit. Even when we deserve God’s sharp rebuke, stern judgment or casting away, God gives us His kindness, patience and acceptance. Jesus set up a new system, not based on works, but based on grace.
Jesus demonstrates His grace on a one-on-one basis. Luke 23:39-43 tells the story of the thief hanging on the Cross next to Jesus. In the natural, “logical” realm, you’d think that this thief had a one-way ticket to eternal darkness. After all, the guy had not lived a “religious” life. He had broken the law numerous times and was considered an outcast, hovering at the bottom rung of the social ladder.
In a twist that stunned both the secular and religious world, Jesus said to the thief:
“I assure you, today you will be with Me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43, NLT)
Now, that would appear unfair to people like the Apostle Paul who wrote a large part of the New Testament and was persecuted for Christ. This promise of heaven is also the same promise that Jesus had offered to Stephen, who died a martyr’s death for the sake of Christ. It seems so unfair, doesn’t it?
It was offensive to the Pharisees, who were the dominant religious order of the day when Jesus walked the earth two thousand years ago. The Pharisees could not believe that God would ever let a sinner like that thief into heaven. (You may even hear the cries “Unfair! Unfair!” in your imagination.)
But the Truth will set you free.
The kingdom of God is not based on the beauty of performance, but on the beauty of Jesus’ performance of dying on the Cross to pay the price for your sins once and for all. Unless you build your life on the magnificence of God’s grace, you’ll never know your standing with God. In the back of your mind, you’ll always wonder, “Am I good enough to go to heaven?”
God is magnificently unfair — for our good. We do what we do as believers and followers of Christ because we are grateful and our hearts are full of love. God is not calling any of us to be on a treadmill of religious activity, relying on our own hopes to earn our way to heaven. We never have to be concerned about the way God views us.
“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.” (Romans 5:1)
God’s mercy is like a glorious unfairness, giving us good things in life that we don’t deserve and holding back what we assuredly deserve when we are measured by the standard of God’s holy perfection. But if there is one thing that we could say is “fair” about Christianity as a faith based on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, it is that everyone is invited to come into and be covered by God’s grace.
How about you?