Is Christianity Fair? - Island of Sanity

Island of Sanity



Defending Christianity

Is Christianity Fair?


A number of years ago I was discussing Christianity with a young lady. She explained that she had difficultly accepting Christianity because it is "not fair". As she understood it, she explained, Christianity teaches that a person could be a terrible, evil person all his life, convert on his deathbed, and go to heaven. On the other hand someone like herself, who was basically a good, decent person but who was not a Christian, would nevertheless be condemned to eternity in hell.

At the time, I struggled to come up with an explanation of why this is fair.

But since then, I've come to the conclusion that she is right. Christianity is not fair. And when I realize that, I am relieved and thankful. Because Christianity does not offer us justice. It offers us mercy. God does not give us what we deserve. He gives us something much, much better.

Some people's lives are so obviously messed up that even they have no illusions that they deserve any great rewards. But most of us probably think we're pretty good: we've never killed anybody, never stolen anything (well, nothing big), never been cruel or spiteful (not to someone who didn't deserve it, anyway), etc. But even if you are "pretty good", it's unlikely that you've ever done anything that benefits God. Hey, few people have ever done much of anything to benefit other people, and many of those did it for selfish reasons. So why should God reward you? He certainly doesn't owe you anything.

We're like someone who has just been convicted of a crime. (Perhaps a minor crime, if you want to insist you're not so bad, but surely you will concede you have done things wrong in your life.) But then instead of imposing a sentence, the judge says, Hey, if you'll just say you're sorry, then instead of going to jail you can spend the rest of your life at a luxury resort.

Would that be justice? Clearly not. It is mercy.

Which just leaves me with one baffling question. Why do people complain about this? They're offerred an opportunity to not only get off scot-free for everything they've ever done wrong, but to also be rewarded far out of proportion to any good they have ever done. And instead of rushing forward with excitement and gratitude to take advantage of this incredible offer, they instead say, "Hey, wait a minute, that other fellow over there took this offer. If I don't, then he gets all this good stuff and I don't. That's not fair!" Maybe not, but only if you're foolish enough not to take the offer yourself.

Praise God that he isn't fair!

© 1998 by Jay Johansen


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