Do the Will of God
The Untouchables in India were the lowest of the low. They said that William Cary, the first Christian missionary to India, brought them salvation, education, and dignity.
The egalitarian gospel helped pull down despotism. Nations with a Christian worldview have eventually converted to representative government. You can use the Bible to support King George. But the gospel properly understood stands against the Despot.
The egalitarian gospel helped pull down slavery. You can use the Bible to support slavery. But the egalitarian gospel makes the master and slave brothers in Christ.
The gospel helped pull down Apartheid, the lie of “separate but equal,” giving full citizenship to people of color.
The gospel helped pull down patriarchy as it existed in the First Century and in the 18th century when wives were the property of husbands. The ground is level at the cross.
Submit to One Another in Love:
Slaves obey your masters.
- Slavery was a major part of the ancient world. I saw one estimate that 60% of Corinth population were slaves.
- If Paul told them to disobey, he would be in violation of the law and the slaves would be in deadly peril.
- We may apply this to our employment situations today. We should be doing our work as unto the Lord.
Masters submit to your Master. Here is the principle for all those who have authority in this world over others. Remember that you will answer to God one day for how you threat those over whom you have authority.
The revelations about sexual misconduct in the entertainment industry and beyond should be a reminder to us. We will answer to God one day. CEOs will answer for how they treat their assistants, doctors their nurses, law enforcement officers their prisoners.
Submit to one another. Submission is fundamental Christianity. We are all called to a love that looks after the interests of the other. Wives submit to husbands. Husbands give it all for wife. Children obey your parents.
Submit to every ordinance of men: "Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority." — I Peter 2:13
Christ as the great Lover who Emptied himself
Then we have what seems to be the opposite:
Embrace Equality with Grace:
"he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him." — Ephesians 6:9
Jesus is the Master of all. We are all slaves in the church of Jesus Christ to our one Lord and Master. We will all report to him one day. There is no Favoritism with God
- My slave is my brother: Philemon 15-17: "Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever—no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord. So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me."
God does not show favoritism.
- This was the stellar quality of Jesus displayed in his relationships that so astonished the ruling class and so delighted the underclass. He was a friend of sinners.
- What Jesus showed in his life on earth is the true character of God. God is not impressed with your money or status. You will not get any favoritism from him on the day of judgment just because you are who you are.
You are not less than me. I am not less than you.
This is the Egalitarian nature of the Gospel: "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." — Galatians 3:28
- “You are all one in Christ.” This was and is the truth regardless of any human ordinance that contradicts.
- All people are equal in that they are all sinners. They are all equally in need of the grace of God. All are saved the same way—through faith in Christ.
- The ground is level at the cross. This confession has always been and is now more accurate and more thoroughgoing than we have been capable of comprehending or implementing in the church. No second-class citizens in the kingdom of God.
The egalitarian principle in the gospel has great power to change the individual and even the society. "Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has set you free, and be not entangled again in the yoke of bondage. For we have been called unto liberty! " — Galatians 5:1-2.
"If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed." — John 8:36
Address Injustice with Wisdom:
Every night my son recites with his sons: “What does the Lord require of thee but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8). We serve a just God who has a great concern for justice in our world.
Address injustice within the law if you can and must.
Corrie Ten Boom survived the concentration camps by serving Christ. She did not lead an open revolt against her captors. She waited and prayed until the Nazi regime fell. I have never heard anyone blame her for operating within the laws of the camps. She could do the most good by working within the parameters that existed.
Work to change the unjust law if possible. Women’s suffrage was achieved without bloodshed as was the legal integration of African-Americans into our society.
Martin Luther King did not take up the sword. Instead, he used nonviolent resistance to pull down an unjust system that claimed to be “separate but equal.” He worked to help all Americans see what the Declaration of Independence actually said: “all men are created equal.” It is a monumental declaration that we have trouble embracing in every generation including our own. But it is true, nonetheless, and is an outgrowth of the teaching that All have a master in heaven and that God does not show Favoritism. He helped our nation live up to its full potential by resisting injustice without using a gun.
Resort to open conflict only if necessary and advisable.
- Paul wrote in Romans 13 to submit to the king.
- John wrote in Revelation 13 to resist the tyrant.
- We all must pray for wisdom as we seek equal justice for all.
The founders of this country were very aware of the Scriptures about submitting to the king. They wrote:
"When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."
Most every man believes that he fights for what is right when he takes up his sword or his gun.
“love never fails.” — I Corinthians 13:8
This is my personal understanding of how the universe works. God is love even though he is all-powerful. I must love myself, my neighbor, and my enemy for God to fully use me. And love ultimately wins no matter the appearance of things.
Love requires justice. If I am unjust, I am not loving.
- Love demands that I address the injustice of women being paid less than men to perform the same job. That is unjust.
- Love demands that I address a work environment where sexual harassment is social acceptable. It is still sin.
- Love demands that I fight against human trafficking in our world where slavery still touches every nation and 30 million people remain enslaved. Love demands that I see and affirm the historical evil of slavery in the First Century and as it existed in this country for 250 years. Many evil things have been legal in every generation and every place. Even though the gospel calls us to “submit to every ordinance of man” it does not call us to endorse an evil law or to justify the sins of our ancestors.
- Love demands that I repent of any attitude that says, “You are less than me.” Whether it is color of skin or gender or economic condition, the idea that another person is not worth as much as me must be rejected. We love our neighbor. We love the stranger. We love our enemy. This is the way of Christ.
We have so much more to do in this teaching of the gospel that “you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
- It is revolutionary in every generation, including ours.
- It is an uncomfortable truth for those who are privileged, who retain power according to the laws of men.
- It is a hopeful truth for those who are oppressed, who live with injustice every day.
- It is the great hope for a world full of injustice—that one day the full dignity of all persons will be recognized by the ordinances of humans as well as the law of God.