By Jeremy Stalnecker
“Life is not fair!”
Have you ever said that? If you are like everyone else in the world, the words may not have crossed your lips but the thought has crossed your mind. We all know what its like to look at a world so often in chaos and conclude that much of what happens here is not fair. And then, to make what is already unfair worse, we look for a place to assign blame. We somehow believe that the only reason life is so unfair is because the “system” has been rigged. And, since the system is broken, we conclude that by either reformation or a complete restart we can get to a place where all is once again equal. We value fairness in concept and practice so much that we will do whatever we think is necessary to get there.
But then we don’t. It turns out that the statement so often made in frustration, “life is not fair,” is actually true! And its not true because the system needs to be reformed or restarted. Its true because the foundation that the “system” is built on was destroyed (not damaged) by the only humans who have ever actually lived in a “fair” world. When we look at the injustice in the world without an understanding of exactly when injustice began, we will work to solve problems that aren’t ACTUALLY the problem. I believe this is the reason so many in our culture today are frustrated and angry in their pursuit of justice. They’re looking for the one thing that will bring their version of “fair” to the world without understanding that “fair” died long before any of us were here.
When “Fair” Died
Its always amazing to me how quick we are to view the world in terms of our own lived experience. We believe that our experience defines the experiences of all people for all time and that our perspective is, without debate, the right one. Looking at the world this way makes it so that the only relevant moment in time in the one we are experiencing right now. We don’t allow the past to guide our actions today because what happened in the past simply does not matter (or so the thinking goes). The problem with looking at the world only from the perspective of your experience is that you often come to the wrong conclusions about your experience. If you don’t know how you got where you are how can you possibly make the best decisions moving forward?
This is exactly what happens in the pursuit of a “fair” world. Without the context of history, understanding how we got to this place, the wrong conclusions will be drawn. So lets get some context. How did we arrive in a place of such brokenness in a world that is so unfair?
It happened in the Garden of Eden.
The opening words of the Bible are these: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” These words, found in Genesis chapter 1 are the beginning of the account of creation. When asking the question, “how did we get here?” it makes sense to go back to the beginning. As this passage continues we see that God created everything INCLUDING mankind (since this is 2021 I need to say that “mankind” means male AND female). Why did He create? The other end of the Bible explains that for us.
Revelation 4:11 “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”
Another verse says it this way:
Colossians1:16 “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:”
God created everything, including man and woman, for HIS pleasure. We were created for Him. That is our purpose. The original intent. To fellowship with God and live in a way that glorifies Him. Not to state the obvious here, but if we were created for God then we were not created for us. Pride, selfish desire, power over others-none of these were intended to be the dominant human motivations. We could say it this way:
Gods original plan for man was entirely fair. He created mankind, provided for mankind and had a relationship with mankind. This brought Him pleasure while giving the first humans a clear, fulfilling, provided for purpose. Now, if you are reading this and think that somehow this was sinister on the part of God please do two things:
- Go back and read the first several chapters of Genesis. God created man to have a relationship with Him, but then put these first humans in a perfect environment without any of the brokenness and destruction that is a part of every day life in our world.
- Remember that He is God and, as Revelation 4:11 says, He is worthy of praise.
God could have done anything that He wanted to in creation and He chose to give to His creation a perfect world without heartache, hurt or want.
And then, because humans have always been good at self-defeat, Adam and Eve made a decision to disobey God and bring sin and death to themselves and every human that would be born from that day forward. You can read the whole story in Genesis chapter 3, but we have the consequences of their decision summed up for us in Romans 5:
Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.
Sin brought with it separation from God and death. The corruption that we experience in the physical and the corruption of the spiritual are death passed to every generation of mankind because of the decision made by our common father Adam. Do you know what else died that day? By now I’m sure you can guess.
The other thing that died in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve decided to sin against God was “fair”.
“Fair” died because now the common goal of living for God was no longer common. Now, self-interest and pride were the primary motivators and the goal of living for God was replaced with the goal of living for self. We see this so clearly illustrated when one of Adam and Eves sons murdered the other one! Fair, common goals and purpose, was gone. “Fair” died in the Garden of Eden.
Thankfully we know the rest of the story. Jesus Christ died on the cross to kill death and provide new life and a relationship with God through Him to all that believe. Ultimately, the eternal purpose of God will be realized and the death initiated in the Garden of Eden will finally, and fully be done away with. But here is the challenge: we’re not there yet. We are living in a world where many are without an understanding of their created purpose and live as slaves to their own ambition, pride, desire for pleasure and power, and a rejection of God as the absolute authority and goal of their lives. Life is not fair because, to paraphrase Judges 17:6, everyone is doing what is right in their own eyes.
The desire for fairness and equality will never fulfilled because we as a race will never agree on what fairness and equality actually are. We will pursue, and view these attributes, according to our own self-will until God finally brings us to the place described in Romans 14:11:
Romans 14:11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
So What Should We Do?
Recognizing that the world is not fair does not mean that we are to simply give up. Understanding the truth should always be a goal because it is in understanding the truth, where we have come from and where we are now, that will allow us to make good decisions. This understanding of the concept of “fair” in our world does not need to be discouraging either. We should be encouraged to know that there is a reason the world is the way that it is and God has ultimate control and will bring His plan together in His time. So, until that time, what should we do?
1. Remember why you were created.
The original intent of creation still, in spite of sin, remains. Our purpose is to live in a way that will give glory to God. We need to do everything that we can to focus on that.
1Corinthians 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
2. We need to learn the Bible and do what it says.
As simple as that may sound, if we all lived our lives according to scriptural mandate the world would be a much more “fair” place and we would be fulfilling our purpose of giving God glory.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
3. Seek Justice.
The fact that the world is not fair is not an excuse for us to turn a blind eye to injustice. Where we can, we need to use influence, opportunity, and resources to pursue justice. We are never more like Christ than when doing all that we can for those who cannot do for themselves.
Psalm 82:3 Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
4. Take Personal Responsibility.
Understanding that the world is broken and in need of a Redeemer helps to put so much of the chaos and confusion of the world into perspective. We know why the world is the way that it is which then releases us to do everything we can to affect it. I cannot change everything, but I can change the things that God allows me to control. Instead of looking to assign blame, take responsibility for your actions and circumstances.
Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
5. Share the truth that sets us free.
Share with a world searching for the truth the source of truth that will set them free.
John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Colossians 1:5 For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
The world is not fair and will not be until God finally and completely brings His plan for the world to pass. This, however, should not be discouraging. Knowing the truth and seeing clearly never should be. What we can do is impact the world as it is trusting that we have been placed here for the moment in time through which we are living.