The Civil Rights Act was signed into law on July 2, 1964, and it included Title VII, giving any and every person an equal opportunity to a job. No one could be denied a job simply because of his or her race, color, gender, religion, or nationality. A black man could apply. A woman could too. A Jewish person could apply. A black woman who has embraced Judaism? Not a problem. She could apply too.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? The law allows everyone an equal opportunity to apply for a job. Too bad it doesn’t always translate into equal status or equal pay. White men still earn more than black men and Hispanic men. (The one exception is Asian-Americans: they earn more.) And men still earn more than women—for the same jobs.
I’ll admit this is not something I’ve thought much about. (I’m a while male, so it figures, right?) I realized how clueless I was as I prepared to preach a sermon last week on racial injustice. I delved into the many ways people are discriminated against. I asked my wife, an accountant, if she had ever been discriminated against. She mentioned one company she worked at for a year. While handling the tax returns of individuals and businesses, she was also expected to clean the office kitchen because, “that’s what the women do.” Want to guess why she didn’t work there longer?
(For the record, I clean the kitchen at our house. She cooks; I clean.)
Equal opportunity is the law, but apparently some are more equal than others. Sigh.
I’m glad God doesn’t think that way. Paul taught us a great truth as he quoted two Old Testament passages: Jesus is an equal opportunity Savior.
Everyone who believes on him will not be put to shame…. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:11,13)
It’s not that Jesus saves all, but some get better treatment. That was the issue Paul wanted to make abundantly clear. In between these two verses, he inserted this:
“There is no distinction between Jew and Greek, because the same Lord of all richly blesses all who call on him” (v. 12).
All those who seek after God and follow Jesus have equal standing before Him. That means some of us will not be favored more than others—even if we are the ideal Christian in our community (always at church even on Wednesdays … attends another church when out of town or on vacation … tithes … brings the best casserole to the church potluck …listens to Charles Stanley … ).
One man thinks he’s got an inside track. He passed me on the interstate, and his pickup had a bumper sticker: “Jesus loves you, but He likes me best.” That man is in for a surprise.
It’s not that some believers will receive or deserve better treatment than others; we will all receive better treatment. In fact, we will all receive the absolute best treatment—which is something none of us deserve!
I like how Paul phrased it: the same Lord of all richly blesses all who call on him. God is a God of abundance, but it’s not just for a select few. This verse reminds me of the parable Jesus told of a man hiring workers for his vineyard. Throughout the day, he kept returning to the vineyard with more workers. At the end of the day, all the workers were paid the same, even those who only worked one hour. People can fuss about the fairness of that (and in our litigious culture, the longest-working workers would surely file a lawsuit), but that misses the point.
In God’s economy, it’s not that everyone simply receives the same; in God’s economy, we all received an abundance. Scripture is full of references to God’s glorious riches (for example: Eph. 2:7; Phil. 4:19). He desires to bless us abundantly (John 10:10); so why should I feel cheated if, at “the last minute,” God saves a person and richly blesses him? That doesn’t take away from the riches I have in Christ Jesus!
Jesus truly is an equal opportunity Savior.
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