A post I wrote for the Slow Church blog:
“On that day you shall not be put to shame because of all the deeds by which you have rebelled against me” (Zeph. 3:11).
“There’s no eye for an eye, there’s no tooth for a tooth. I saw Judas Iscariot carrying John Wilkes Booth.” (Tom Waits, “Down There by the Train”)
We live in a score-keeping, tit-for-tat world. We thrive on retribution in our politics, our entertainment, our personal (and often petty) dramas. We live by the law of karma—or at least we secretly wish karma to be true: goodness sown reaps goodness and evil, we hope, will be repaid for evil. (We find karma especially appealing when pondering the actions of all the people we don’t like).
And then there’s the gospel.
In the reign of God, says Jesus, a wayward, disobedient son is welcomed home – no questions asked – by his loving, patient father; laborers who show up at the end of the day receive the same wages as the hard-working early birds; a woman caught in adultery is given a blessing instead of a curse.
Everything about this just seems wrong. Where’s the justice, the basic fairness that makes the world tolerable, navigable, predictable? But then our own lives come into view: We work hard and can’t seem to catch a break. The greedy prosper. The lazy do, too. What is this world coming to?
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