When I would get in trouble as a child and argue with my parents, emotions would build and I’d end up being sent to my room
On such spectacular occasions that were anything but an example of calm and quiet, I’d stomp up the stairs, temper-tantrum style, mumbling under my breath, “IT’S NOT FAIR!!” I’d stomp so hard, hoping that it would knock something off the walls in the family room below–nonetheless knowing that if it actually happened, I’d be in even more trouble. Upon arriving at the top of the staircase, I’d walk around the corner, head to my room and slam the door with all my might. My feet would continue to thud onto the pink carpet, and eventually, I’d end up crying on my bed.
It wasn’t what my parents were making me do or not letting me do that got me so angry. It was because I genuinely thought that their decision lacked fairness. Their logic was based on irrational thought and lead to nothing that I justly deserved. It was not fair, according to me, and that was all that mattered.
The reason I share with you this somewhat embarrassing part of my childhood is that I sincerely believe that there is a temper-tantrum screaming child deep down inside all of us.
We like it when things are fair. We like it when people who offend us by doing something “bad” get in trouble. We like it when we do something good, and the universe seems to magically provide an award that we think we deserve. We like it when the bad guy loses and the good guy wins. We like fairness.
Perhaps that’s why a line in a Reliant K song caught my attention when going through a bunch of music on my computer earlier this week.
“But the beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair.”
In the Gospel of John (chapter 8 for those of you who might want to check it out), Jesus redefines grace though his dispensing of unfairness.
Here, we meet a woman caught in the act of adultery. There is no question that she has sinned. There is no question that her sin, according to the law, earned her the grand prize of a public stoning. All the church leaders, the faces who ran this town, dragged her to the front of the crowd, hoping to prove a point.
But Jesus had a different end of the story in mind.
He told the men that they could go ahead and throw the stones if–only if–they were without sin. He radically rocked their expectations. No longer was it OK for these men to stone this woman. None of them, no matter how proud they might have been of their behavior, could honestly say that they were without sin.
So the men left.
Scripture tells is that it was Jesus and the women left standing there. Could you imagine what thoughts were running through this woman’s head??? Face to face with the Son of God. Who just saved her life. And who, even more shockingly, wanted to have a conversation with her. The woman who was probably well aware of her own sin.
This is where Jesus interrupted the crowd with a new definition of grace when he told the Pharisees that they could stone the woman if they were without sin. That was the only test, and they all failed. But Jesus was without sin, so according to the terms defined, he had the right to stone her. Those still hanging around to watch this showdown might have even expected him to pick up a rock. It would have been the fair thing to do. But their expectations were interrupted with what he chose not to do.
Jesus wasn’t fair. He was a dispenser of unfairness.
People constantly step on my toes, annoy me, offend me, make me mad, hurt my feelings and do all sorts of things that make me want to give them a piece of mind and tell them what they deserve. It would be just. It would be the fair thing to do. In fact, in many situations, no one would question it.
But Jesus redefined when we have the right to be fair with people. He interrupts our fairness, challenging us a new way to dispense grace–the unfair way.