When you hear the word "equality," what images does it conjure up? Do you think about women's suffrage or the three fifths compromise reached at the Philadelphia Convention of 1878? Maybe you think of Martin Luther King, Jr. or the more timely gay rights movement? Equality... what it means and who it's "reserved" for... has been a hot button issue for generations, for all races, for both genders, for every age group. So it's no surprise that the Bible speaks very plainly to the issue of equality. But, what might surprise you is what it says:
"Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: 'He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.'"
2 Corinthians 8:13-15
Here's what Chan has to say about this: "Paul was asking the Corinthian believers to give to impoverished saints of Jerusalem, the goal being that no one would have too much or too little. The idea is pretty far fetched in modern-day culture, where we are taught to look out for ourselves and are thus rewarded. The gap is so extreme in our world that we have to take lightly passages such as Luke 12:33: 'Sell your possessions and give to the poor.' How else can I walk out of a mud shack and back into my two-thousand-square foot house without doing anything? The concept of downsizing so that others might upgrade is biblical, beautiful...and nearly unheard of. We either close the gap or don't take the words of the Bible literally." p. 121
Take a moment to catch your breath, to pick your jaw up off the floor or tend to the stinging ache that resonates from the slap across the face we all just received. I just got through reading a really good book that talks about how we "cherry pick" scriptures to fit into our lives. We take them out of context (a great example of this is Ephesians 5:22: "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.") Or we say, "Well, things have changed a lot since then... we have to apply scripture to our culture." By doing this, we compare scripture to inflation...it's adjustable given our situations, based on our comfort level. Seriously, people think this?
Cultures might change, social mores might change... but scripture will never change. It is constant, just as applicable today as it was 200 years ago... 2000 years ago. What changes are our interpretations... our willingness to submit. The scriptures highlighted here today are blaring, "rubber-meets-the-road" calls to action that almost everyone I know balks at... not defiantly, mind you... but almost everyone has an excuse: I need a big house for my family, I need a "good" neighborhood for my kids, having a big house allows me to invite people in, I won't be able to minister to the rich if I don't live with the rich. I'm not here to argue these points, some of them are valid... and I've said a few of them myself... but are they spoken in truth... or, in the back of your mind, is there a part of you that thinks that maybe, just maybe, this isn't what God had in mind. Call it conviction, guilt, conscience...God. Do you doubt your decision, question how you live, how you spend your money? Do you shake your head at the thought of equality... Biblical quality? It's one thing to say you agree with it... it's another to live like you believe it!
Spend some time today thinking about Luke 12:33 and 2 Corinthians 8:13-15. Ask God to reveal to you any selfish desires or strongholds in your life that are making it difficult for you to embrace the concept of Biblical equality. If you're married, talked to your spouse about it. You might be surprised by the conversation.