Encounter

Not Fair

When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life. Titus 3:4-7

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” LUKE 23:39-43

Insight

Life isn’t fair. If it was I’d be the starting point guard for the Chicago Bulls. But, unfortunately, God created me to be 5’6 and slow with little court vision and a horrible jump shot.

Life isn’t fair. If it was I’d have created Facebook and would be a billionaire. But, unfortunately, the closest I’ll get to being Mark Zuckerberg is the collection of hoodies I have in my closet. 

Life isn’t fair. As I write this I’m in good health, have a roof over my head with no worries about where my next meal will come from. I’m married to a loving wife, have two beautiful daughters and live five minutes from the beach.

Life isn’t fair. As I write this people are starving, families are being torn apart, abuse is occurring, and someone is receiving horrible news about a loved one.

Life isn’t fair. God causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good. He sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous (Matthew 5:45).

Life isn't fair. If you're like me, when something horrible happens, or you experience one of life's interruptions, you often feel like your hurt and pain is completely unjustified. You find yourself thinking, "This isn't fair. I'm a good person. What did I do to deserve this?" Yet, there is one major issue with this line of thinking: I'm not good. Neither are you.

Life isn’t fair. The good news of the Gospel is that through God’s grace we’ve received what we don’t deserve. God’s mercy is available to EVERYONE. Not just you. Not just me. It’s offered to those you struggle to love, those who have hurt you, those who rejoice in evil and those who seem like a lost cause. 

Life isn’t fair. Neither is grace. And that’s what makes it so amazing. Grace is unsettling. It goes against our quest for fairness. During the moment He was being crucified, Christ showed the full extent of His “life isn’t fair” grace.

In Luke 23, two men were being crucified on both sides of Him. Both were criminals. Unlike Christ, they were receiving just punishment for their crimes. One criminal hurled insults in Jesus’s direction while the other did the unthinkable. In the final moments of his life, the other criminal had the audacity to ask Jesus to show him mercy. 

This individual had not only squandered his life up to this point, but he had done something so horribly wrong that the government felt a crucifixion was worthy punishment. In his plea to Jesus, there was no way he could prove he was deserving of forgiveness. It was impossible for him to right his wrongs or become a changed man. The criminal couldn’t earn forgiveness by his good works in the future. Death was at his doorstep. 

None of this mattered to Jesus. His response to the criminal’s plea: “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43) When you go to heaven, you might bump elbows with this criminal. And, what will your reaction to this be? Life isn’t fair.

The criminal’s plea isn’t the most audacious part of the story. It’s the reality that Jesus’s final act before giving up His spirit was giving a criminal a ticket into paradise. In the midst of the chaos and the madness going around Him, Jesus was still at work. Let that sink in for a moment. This is the audacity of grace. It’s getting what we don’t deserve. It’s a message of forgiveness for all. It’s God saying, “life isn’t fair,” but take heart because I’ve overcome the world.

Reflection

  • Complete the following sentence: Grace is ________. What makes you answer in the way that you do? How does your answer influence your willingness to accept it?

Prayer

God, Your grace is audacious. It is bold. It is freeing. It is where life is found. Thank you that You aren’t fair, and You give me a love that is undeserved. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

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