The issue of inequality and the fight for equality…

The fight continues. And the divides seem greater. Maybe not in distance but in number. There’s an ever growing number of sub-cultures crying out for equality. This, to many, is the problem. But I think it reveals a problem. One that has been ignored for far too long within “evangelical” or religious circles.

Equality among humans is something that Americans espoused within the Constitution, but never really lived out fully. Also, it’s not an wholly “American” theme. It’s a Judeo-Christian theme adopted by the founding fathers. The idea that all people are created in the image of God and therefore have equal value regardless of what they produce or reproduce is found in the Bible, not history or philosophy.

This is a God thing. Humans hold a special place in the heart of God. They bear the image of God.

We struggle to live out equality, even as followers of God through Jesus, because we have our inherent, cultural, and societal norms, biases, and categories. Granted, people often place themselves in categories or sub-cultures based on any number of defining factors. But the idea that any group is lesser and should be treated that way is completely against the message of Jesus, the Bible, and the early church.

I believe the fight for equality in most cases is the fight for power and recognition. We all want a “seat at the table” and most don’t care if that means displacing another group. Rarely do I find a group pushing for “equal” anything, as much as their own power and recognition.

This isn’t anything new either. And if you’re fuming right now, I promise there’s a reason I point this out. Humans have always struggled for power and recognition. At one point in history, and even today in some cultures, it was Christians who were arrested, killed, and tortured unjustly. But what happened when Christianity became the national religion of Rome? Christians became the persecutors.

This isn’t unique to Christianity. It’s human.

Paul’s answer to the issue of equality…

When we look into the Bible we find that “Christians” or “evangelicals” in America have been getting it wrong all along. As they push against equality they miss some of the most important teachings for those who follow Jesus.

The answer to issues of equality is inequality.

Here’s a bit of what Paul told the church in Philippi…

“Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”
The key to unity and joy is considering others as better than yourself. A bit of inequality, which we are already good at, flipped around. Imagine a world where we all began to view everyone as simply better than ourselves. This is what Paul called for, and it’s what Jesus did!
People who claim to follow Jesus would benefit by starting here. There’s no need to take a vote as a group to reject racism and racist organizations. You just consider everyone from every race as better than you. This kind of humility breeds equality in the hearts of humans. Oh, and did I mention that Jesus modeled this for us?
Jesus modeled for us a formula for unity and joy as we live with other humans…
UNITY <<< LOVE <<< SACRIFICE <<< HUMILITY
Simple, right? Maybe conceptually. But living out humility and sacrifice is the most difficult thing for people. Sacrifice means not getting what we want. And face it. We want what we want, when we want it. Think of your latest run in with your boss or family member. If you had humbled yourself and sacrificed your way, could unity have been achieved?
I know, I know. But they were wrong. Yeah. So were we when Jesus lived this out.
Followers of Jesus aren’t concerned with fighting for equality. They are dedicated to fighting for humility. Fighting for others. Seeing others as better. Removing categories. Removing class, sexual orientation, interests, and/or race. Looking to the heart of someone made in the image of God. Sacrificing our own equality.
My hope is that Downtown Faith will gain influence within downtown Las Vegas by sacrificing our selves for others. We must love loudly. We must give generously. We must commit courageously. If we do, I believe we can create a culture of humility and inequality in the best possible way!

 

An Old Way Of Thinking About An Even Older Issue
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