If one were to Google the question "What does the Lord require?" within the search query of the Bible, then the answer would say, "to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8)
Justice as it relates to the Gospel has been on my mind a lot lately. The Episcopal Church talks about justice quite a bit. I have no doubt in my mind that God is just and that God is calling his followers to be just. I have no doubt that God wants us to pay attention to the unjust structures of society. I am thankful for so many in our community who are committed to this work.
At Bible study this morning I was reminded that striving to do justice can sometimes get in the way of discipleship particularly when justice is equated and reduced to fairness. Fairness can mean getting an equal share of something. Fairness can also mean getting what you deserve for better and for worse. In short, fairness is a mode of human judgment.
I was reminded once again that Jesus isn't interested in handing out a judgment of fairness. Remember the workers in the vineyard? The people who worked all day received the same pay as the guys who showed up at the last hour. Remember the Prodigal Son? The young son who spent his father's money on dissolute living was welcomed home and celebrated as a king while the upstanding older son stood on the sidelines screaming--that's not fair!
He is right. Jesus isn't fair. But the Gospel isn't about fairness.
The Gospel is about right relationship with God and your neighbor through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
I can hear Jesus saying to those of us who are concerned about fairness, "Don't worry about everyone else--about their shortfalls, about their successes. Worry about yourself. See this child? Serve this child. Serve without the expectation of fairness or receiving something in return."
I can also hear Jesus saying, "I'll worry about that slacker you are so worried about. I'll worry about that jerk who is being unfair to all those helpless people. You worry about how you can let go of your pride and serve the slacker and the jerk. Forget about your model of fairness. Have faith that my model of right relationship will serve justice to all people in the end."
What does Jesus require? Jesus is calling us to follow him. He is calling us to see the world through a different lens--not through the lens of fairness but through the lens of right relationship with all people.
I know this new way of seeing things is not easy, but I am thankful that Jesus is showing us the way because without his way I could not do these things.