May11ThuMay 11, 2017
In the process of establishing the United States of America, the Founding Fathers appointed five men to serve on a committee, which they named The Committee of Five. (Keeping things simple seemed like a good idea, in the beginning.) Thomas Jefferson was one of the five, and the other four said that he would be the one who would write The Declaration of Independence. And he did. It began with a number of truths that he declared to be “self-evident; the first ones being “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Jefferson did not invent the phrase about being “created equal.” He may have “derived” the words from a good friend of his, Philip Mazzei, an Italian-born physician, patriot and pamphleteer. But Dr. Mazzei did not invent the phrase either. Over a century before, the Scottish Puritan John Knox had used the words in one of his written works. At any rate, Mr. Jefferson, and then the whole committee, and in time the entire Congress, agreed that the equality to which all human beings were created refers to their right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” along with certain other “unalienable rights.”
All these years later, both in the U.S. and in Canada, people generally still hold the notion (as self-evident) that all human beings are created equal. Many, I think, mean “equal in every way.” They also seem to believe that anyone who dares to deny this notion should be vilified, and perhaps marched against, and quite possibly fined or fired or imprisoned or banished. “NOT created equal!” such people exclaim. “How can you believe that??? That wouldn’t be fair!!!” These days, it seems that political leaders generally appeal to “fairness” as their justification for introducing new policies and legislation, and for revoking the previous government’s. But “fairness” is the thing! Although it is a difficult concept to define, it is generally accepted as sacred. “Being fair” is that indelibly inked into our thinking. (By the way, what is guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment of America’s Bill of Rights is not “a fair trial,” but rather “a speedy and public trial” — which by comparison to “a fair trial” would be relatively simple both to define and measure.
Now we come to the "Christians’ version" of this concept. It is a commonly-held conviction among us that God has created us equal, and that not to do so would be totally unfair of God. But human beings are obviously not born equally safe, or equally well-provided for, or equally healthy. And people’s life circumstances are always capable of changing in many ways. And they often do; often not for the better.
In the Book of Psalms we are told, “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him” (Psalm 103:13). To this statement we can expect that certain questions will be asked, often indignantly. “What kind of father does not treat all of his children the same? How can God the Father be so unfair?” It is, under our cultural circumstances, a reasonable question—even if many people are NOT, in fact, God’s children. The Apostle Paul wrote to a group of Christians, “You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Ephesians 2:1-3).
But in the case of every child of God—having been adopted by God the Father through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ—it is obvious (self-evident even), what kind of father God is. He is the one father in the world who is infinitely good, infinitely kind and infinitely powerful. His thoughts are not our thoughts, and his ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8,9). So our instructions are to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). And to be “giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20).
It has often been noticed that life is NOT fair. Many are the challenges of life. Many are the people in need. Many are the despairing. Yet sometimes life is, as the saying goes, a bed of roses. And there we have it. Some people are born intellectually challenged, but others are naturally brilliant. Some people are born into poverty, but others will inherit a fortune. Some people are paralyzed, or sick, or dying, while others have qualified to compete in the Olympics. Life IS not fair, and God is not fair. “Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne” (Psalm 97:2).