Are we really equal?

th-11I’m sure some of you noticed a shocking sentence at the end of the Wikipedia quote about Francis Bellamy, Baptist minister, and the originator of the Pledge of Allegiance. After quoting the original pledge — “…with liberty and justice for all” — there was this sentence: “As a socialist, he [Bellamy] had initially also considered using the words equality and fraternity but decided against it – knowing that the state superintendents of education on his committee were against equality for women and African Americans.”

It’s notable that as a Christian leader (Baptist minister) he was in favor of emphasizing equality as a key component of the pledge, but what is also surprising is the reason he didn’t — “the state superintendents of education on his committee were against equality for women and African Americans.” This was in 1892, after the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation had gained equal rights for all. Equal rights on paper, maybe, but still a long way from equal in people’s minds.

It is so important that we, as Christians, lead the way in these areas. It shows the world what Jesus is like, and it speaks well for the Gospel of Welcome. What a surprise it would be to see Christians leading the way to equality and respect for diversity in society, or what Os Guinness calls “the public square.” Given the current climate, most people would be shocked to discover that Christians were in the forefront of these things. Think about how you might be able to foster equality in your own thinking and in the treatment of people around you.

Do some serious thinking today about equality, and see if you can identify people whom you might think are not equal to you. You can find this out by how you treat people, how you act around them, what you think when you first see a person. Do you give preference to an employed person over an unemployed person? Do you give preference to the person with the most money, or the nicer car? Do you give preference to people of a certain race or ethnic group over those of other ethnic groups? (I can remember, growing up in a Christian home, hearing the “N” word for African Americans, and a word I don’t even want to mention used for Mexicans.) What about a urine-reeking homeless man? Is he equal to you? Do you think of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people as equally important as you are? What about Arabs, Palestinians, Muslims? All equal? What about men and women? Do you pass on jokes that degrade anyone? Or what about the people you just choose not to notice — the invisible people? Hey, what about Baptists and Pentecostals? Equal? Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses?

I don’t know about you, but if I put myself through this gauntlet, I don’t come out on the other end smelling very rosy. Is there anyone who is not in the image of God? Then why don’t I see everyone that way? Why don’t I see God in everyone? We may have fallen, but we haven’t lost the resemblance.

Jesus Christ was followed around by a group that included beggars, prostitutes, lepers, demon-possessed — misfits, all of them. He championed their cause. He treated them as equals while the Scribes and Pharisees looked on and judged not only them, but Him. What group do you want to be in? Don’t you want to be with Jesus?

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12 Responses to Are we really equal?

  1. Jesus was pretty radical. And God sure does emphasize justice a bunch in the bible. (actually, that’s a pretty tight argument for the bible being the Word of God — chances are humans wouldn’t have written this radically on their own)!

  2. Galatians 6:10. Do good to all but especially those redeemed by grace.

  3. Peter Leenheer says:

    The best place for me is at the bottom of the heap….I am the worst of sinners!!!! This keeps me in my place and enables me to give unconditional love to all I meet. I am no better than anyone else in this world. This creates in me an acceptance of all. The overwhelming free grace of God does not let me forget that i deserve nothing and cannot please God without Jesus. Jesus, I am in your camp!!! Why you forgave my sin often boggles my mind, but I’ll take it. Let me never think that I am above anyone of your creatures.

  4. If you look at Jesus’ lineage as described in Matthew 1, something becomes very clear. We know that He came for all, but when you look at the number of births along the way that involved incest, adultery, intermarriage with foreigners and murder, all of which could have been punished by death (and therefore could have stopped that lineage in its tracks), we realize that Jesus also came *from* all.

  5. Jeff U says:

    Thanks for this John. I have preached that there has never been, nor will there ever be, a person whom God does not love. Your words add strength to this. Blessings.

  6. There are too many prejudice people that must really fear their own ignorance when they look at others. A will try to keep this short, but when I lived in California I use to patron a place called Fenwick’s in Toluca Lake any how I had gone bike riding with friends and I stopped in there for a beverage. The owner’s wife looked at me and told me that I could come back if I wore different attire as she scanned me in my shanty clothes over. I smiled and borrowed my friend’s Ferrari to make the 1 1/2 blocks home. I do not believe this woman thought I owned clothes, foolish woman. I am certainly one who enjoys them,lol! I wish they had cell phones back then because the look on her face was priceless! Also fast forwarding to when I worked at the hospital everyone in the lab would complain about having to go to the psych ward, but I could never understand what the hub was all about, simply because they are the same just trying to deal with an issue that troubles them(I understand that some can not be helped w/o meds. but some could be helped with understanding). I also use to have this doctor who was a lawyer first that would drive me insane, because his demeanor really lacked in compassion of his new field. It took me several attempts, but he finally got what I was saying,lol! (A little threat never hurt anyone) However, I have a few close personal experience with this type of behavior and the first one coming from my own family. When my mother divorced my father, his whole family divorced us, so don’t know them and the second one was one I gave birth to my son and my husband’s parents, may God bless them would never admit that it was their grandchild, even though they were generous in sending him gifts, the problem lied with my son has sickle cell trait. Being of an earlier era they only associate that as a black person’s disease. My son and I are not black, but are Irish and Puerto Rican, and naturally my son has German. My stance was/is always be we all wake up God willing and put our clothes on the same way. One leg at a time and if we cut ourselves we still are the same because we all bleed RED! Remember when we were kids and we would poke ourselves and mix our blood with our bffs to become blood brothers? There is something to that, but we don’t have to necessary cut ourselves to see it!

  7. Andrew P. says:

    A number of years ago, I read an essay pointing out the growth that can be seen, even in the epistles of the Apostle Paul. While in his earlier writings, such as 1 Thess. 2, he can be seen vigorously defending his reputation, even saying in v. 10, “You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.” In his mid-period writings, some of the vigor in self-defense disappears, and we’ll see him in 2 Cor. acting rather embarrassed about it; in fact, in 1 Cor. 15:9, he will describe himself as “the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle.” But the old man Paul will write (1 Tim 1:15) that he is the worst of sinners!

    If it takes even the Apostle Paul years to come around to that kind of thinking, what makes us think we’ll get there any faster?

    • Andrew, I understand whole heartily what you are saying that it takes time for some to grow into what John wrote. But…. you knew I would say that, right?! Peoples lives are all different and some come to this conclusion earlier than others! No one is rushing anyone to grow quickly in this knowledge and it wouldn’t work anyways. I was chastised for this very same thing at a most difficult time in my life, because the Christians I knew couldn’t understand it, however, never took the time to learn about what I have gone through that lead me to this conclusion. Do not believe I am above them, but my life long experience even though I was/am younger God gave me the wisdom to understand.
      In one of John’s previous posts he spoke about his dysfunctional family and to me that probably would have been a joy to endure considering what I had gone through. At 17 y/o I hitchhiked to California with a friend, but the second time I did it solo and lived there 8 years, so I learned a lot, seen a lot, and did a lot. I didn’t include the stuff that had happened in between, so do I get it, Yes I do, but does that mean you are with me in that understanding? Maybe, maybe not, but I am not God to sit there and state: You Have To Be Here!!! No, you will get there with God and at your own pace in how He works and deals with you. He deals with our inside issues, so we can shine forth in His timing and not some human/people’s timing, because He deals with us as an individual and not a group session. Love you and thank

  8. I would like to think that Jesus never dropped the F*-bomb or N*-word – or the equivalent back in the day – when he was “partying” with the sinners and tax collectors or hanging out with the brusque fishermen, but who really knows?! It’s pretty obvious He was able to communicate confidently with everyone in their own language and on their own turf – regardless of their outward appearances, inner demons, and/or perceived piety.
    When I read this mornings Catch, I was reminded of Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite woman whom He referred to as a “dog”.
    Despite its apparent “racist” or otherwise derogatory allusion, Jesus was simply speaking the accepted lingo of the day; heck, even the woman called herself “a dog” which, I’m sure, back then had a much harsher inference than how we, nowadays, would prefer to interpret the word or meaning.
    But Jesus wasn’t being rude, disrespectful, or even demeaning – He was just being Himself and simply communicating with the woman in terms that she easily understood and accepted – and for which she took no apparent offense, even though He was the ‘foreigner’ and someone not of her own race calling her a ‘dog’.
    I suppose she could have felt put off or been offended but she wouldn’t let the thin veneer of a degrading word dissuade her from her goal of seeing the “Lord, Son of David” heal her daughter.
    In fact, she rose to His challenge by thinking first and wisely responding to Jesus in a manner worthy of His blessing. And, blessed she was – despite the societal discrimination’s and wranglings of that era.
    She may have been hurt or offended, but she still chose not to let a possible knee-jerk reaction on her part kill her chances – as well as her daughter. She opted to take the higher road…

    Nowadays, it seems, more individuals and/or groups of individuals are exposing their “thin-skins” and whining about their personal injustices (real or sensationalized) and demanding retribution in some form – rather than learning how to develop thicker hides and, subsequently, help others though whatever storms or controversies that are plaguing both society and the world-at-large.
    Hate and fear are now the proclamations of the day rather than love and acceptance.
    This is where followers of Christ, along with the Gospel of Welcome, need to take the “higher road”…

    NOTE: Before anyone objects, I am not condoning racism, bad language, intolerance, discrimination, or anything else here other than “Love: Jesus-style” to be expressed toward every other soul on this planet (as well as on the International Space Station!).

    Hmmm, now that I think about it, perhaps Jesus may have dropped that F*-bomb when chasing out the money-changers or confronting the Pharisees, Sadducees, demons, and others!

    Shalom…

    • Lol BobnearSeattle, when I first started into your post that was the first thing that entered my mind! How Jesus called the woman a dog, but truth be known I could live with Him calling me a dog compared to what He called the religious folks (Pharisees, Saducees, and Scribes)during His day. I think He may even call some of today’s religioous folks the same thing, but us being unaware,lol! Wouldn’t blame Him to be honest, because a lot of churches tend to want to believe they are church Philadelphia. “Oh excuse me, hope I didn’t offend some”. I love your post Bob and I will have to remember your quote: Love: Jesus Style!!! Just love it and you Thanks

      btw: before anyone things I am weird for telling folks whether I know them personally or not so personally I love them. I learned a lesson about this in which I will continue to do, however, little time I’ve know a person, I just want that person to know I care and appreciate them. 😀

      • Thanks, Colleen, for your kind, loving, and encouraging words!

        No offense to lyricists Charles Fox and Arnold Margolin, or The Cowsills but…
        Yeah, “Love: Jesus-style” is much, much “Truer than the Red, White and Blue!” 🙂

  9. TimC says:

    I’ve been reading “The Hope of the Gospel” by George MacDonald. (It was available for free on Amazon Kindle – ha!) He points out the very first of the beatitudes is “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
    Those who get looked down upon are those to whom the kingdom of heaven belongs.
    And no where in the sermon on the mount does Jesus commend those who have everything under control and have their lives altogether.

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