Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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[Gary Petty] "It's not fair." Have you ever said that to God? What if the answer you got from God was, "You're right, it's not fair." What would you say then? I mean, what is God's purpose in allowing so much unfairness in your life?
As a pastor, I see the emotional effects of life's unfairness all of the time. It's the look in a parent's eyes as they lower that little coffin down into the grave. It's the voice of someone who calls me on the phone and says that their mother was just killed by a drunk driver. You know, every day you and I see and experience unfairness. It's in the lines of the face of the handicapped man in filthy clothing, holding a sign that says he's a veteran and he needs help for his family. It's in the anger expressed by people trapped in poverty and they just can't get out of it.
You know, all of us have a deep desire to be treated with equity, to receive fair treatment free from bias and favoritism. And this is why we experience such despair and anger when courts are unjust in the application of the law because the law is supposed to be unbiased and fair. So let's face it. Life is filled with inequality and unfairness. It is. So where is God in all of this unfairness? You know, the inherent unfairness of life is one of the reasons why many people say they can't accept the God of the Bible. And I've even heard Christians say that when they're faced with the seemingly random inequalities of life that they'll ask, "What does God want from me? I'm a good person. And it seems like all the people who are bad get all the breaks."
Well today, we're going to look at two biblical answers that can give you a clear perspective and comfort in dealing with life's unfairness. Life's unfairness. The first answer is found in the life of Jesus Christ and His ultimate example of dealing with injustice and unfairness. You know, the fundamental claim of Christianity is that Jesus is the Son of God who came to this Earth. Christ entered into this human condition as the ultimate act of love for us. And if you don't believe that, you can't be a Christian. But think about this. As a young man in His early thirties, Jesus stood before the Roman governor. He had been falsely accused, roughed up by soldiers. He'd been spat upon, was now being humiliated in a mock trial. And large crowd had gathered around to see what was going on, sort of the circus. You know, hear what the verdict was going to be. And the Romans at this time had a custom that once a year, the Jewish people could choose one prisoner to be freed from the prison. Pontius Pilate, the governor, gave the choice of Barabbas, Barabbas was a known murderer, or Jesus, who was absolutely innocent. And the crowd, spurred by envious religious leaders, cried out for Barabbas to be set free. And the innocent Jesus was brutally beaten and suffered the horrifying death by crucifixion. It wasn't fair. And it sure wasn't justice for Jesus.
But to understand Christianity, you need to know something. That what happened there on that day was actually about justice, but it's about justice for you and me. God understands the unfairness that happens in your life and my life every day. Christ entered into our world and He experienced this dysfunctional, unfair life for a reason. You and I live in a world that was not designed by God, but free will is free will and bad decisions create bad consequences. And you and I have to come to grips with that reality because all of us are trapped in a world of unfairness and we can't change this fundamental problem.
The fundamental problem is that every one of us is part of the problem because inside of us, in the inner person, every one of us is flawed. We don't understand why this is so unfair. We're all upset. We don't understand what God's purpose is for us. And we don't understand our own selfishness, which is part of the problem. We see unfairness as someone else's fault. So we blame God.
Let's talk about God's view of fairness for just a moment. The Bible reveals that the Creator, God, who is the only source of good, He's the only source of good, He declares all of us guilty of breaking His laws. And He declares, He does, we have to accept this, that every one of us deserve death because of what we've become. And you will never understand Christianity, the real Christianity, until you accept the reality of your guilt before God. Well that's not a nice message. No, it's the core of the problem. We have to go to the core of the problem to find the real answer. And the answer is, all of us are messed up, and by the law of God, we deserve death.
Now, when you accept your guilt, you begin to realize that God's justice requires your life. And this is why Jesus Christ endured the ultimate unfairness, the ultimate torture, the ultimate humiliation. To become justice for you and me. And this is our first point. Jesus experienced the ultimate unfairness so that you can know God to be saved from your own dysfunctional, my dysfunctional, all of us, our own dysfunctional human nature and endure the mess of living in this unfair world. His sacrifice was done for what we deserve before the law of God. You know, when you really understand Christianity, you realize you're worshiping a God who understands our suffering. He understands injustice. He understands rejection. Jesus Christ knows exactly what you are going through all the time. And He also understands His father's plan to use it for good.
You see, we are deserving of death, but God's plan doesn't end there, because you see, God isn't the source of all this unfairness in your life. He understands your distress. He knows that the core problem is inside of you. And this is why He offers us His grace. Now you've heard that very religious sounding word. Grace means favor. Because God is loving, kind and merciful, He shows us favor in spite of the fact that we're corrupted, we don't do what He says, we disobey Him, and there's something wrong with us.
Now, grace, you have to understand, we're going to talk about grace in its most intense form, but grace in reality extends to everything in your life. Now let me show you what I mean. I want all of you here. If you're watching, I want you to do the same thing. I want you to take a deep breath. Go okay, let it out. You have just experienced grace from God because you know what? If He decides you don't take another one, you won't.
Understand when you read in the Bible, when you get into the Old Testament especially, you read the word soul, okay? It's from a Hebrew word that means breath. The first pages of the Bible in there it says that God breathed into man's nostrils and he became a living soul, literally a breath being. You see, we're all breath beings. And each breath we take is an act of God's grace because He gave you life. So we don't even think about it. That's God letting you live. Now the greatest grace that God has showed us is through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
I really encourage you to order "What Does the Bible Teach About Grace?" This study guide will help you understand how God's grace is the answer to dealing with the unfairness and inequality of life. What God wants to do in your life is greater than whatever difficulty that you are experiencing. Now I know from experience that's hard to remember sometimes. When we lose focus on God and Christ, we get lost in the unfairness of life. Order your free copy of "What Does the Bible Teach About Grace?" by calling the number on your screen or going to beyondtoday.tv where you can order a copy or you can download a copy right into your computer.
Understanding that Jesus Christ suffered the ultimate unfairness to become justice for our very real guilt gives us a new focus on life's inequalities. We realize that God is being more than fair with us. In fact, we don't want God to be fair with us. We really don't want Him to be fair with us. But there is a trap that Christians can fall into if you have an incomplete understanding of God's grace. And this brings us to our second point. We fall into a trap where we see our relationship with God as being transactional, not transforming. Okay, what do I mean by transactional? You have a transactional relationship with God when you define your relationship with Him as, "Well I do something for God by obeying Him, and then He's obliged to give me something back.
Now before I go on, I've got to make something, a point clear here. God does promise blessings for those who obey Him. And it's true that when any personal obeys any of God's laws, there's a positive consequence. And this is a comforting and positive outcome for being a Christian. I mean, God gives blessings, right? But at the same time, there's something the apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians we need to think about. He said, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap." This is important. God never promises to save us from all the bad consequences of our own actions or from the unfairness caused by everyone else's wrong actions, okay?
Read this with me, think about this. At home, read it out loud. "God never promises to save us from all of the bad consequences of life," whether there's something we did or something someone else did. And you know what? That makes it unfair. You and I were born into a world that is out of touch with the Creator and inherently unfair. You know, this is the problem with what is often been called health and wealth gospel. It's a false message about how if you give money to a particular church or ministry, God will give you unlimited physical blessings. This is a transactional relationship with God.
The effect of a transactional relationship with God is that you will eventually become disappointed because God's not always going to give you what you feel you deserve. Life is messy and unfair. And if you see yourself as a good Christian and you have a transactional relationship with God, it will sometimes seem like God isn't upholding his end of the bargain. You're doing the good stuff and not getting the right blessings. But you know, one of the most frustrating aspects of life is that we have so little control over the bad things that happen to us. Because if we're not careful, we begin to see life as a victim. You know, you can't control your genetics, where you were born, the weather, or the fact that they still can't figure out how to cure the common cold. And, you know, I would like to really control the aging process, but I get out of bed every morning and realize that I'm aging and I can't control that.
The only control we have over the things that happen to us is our response. We either choose to find God's purpose in life's unfairness, or we choose to respond as angry victims. And when you view life as a victim, it keeps you from taking responsibility for your own actions. And it really makes it difficult for you to experience healthy relationships with other people.
When you adopt a victim mentality, here's what you do. You sort of create this personal life story. "I am a victim." And then you trap yourself in constant trauma because you see everything happening to you as a victim. So you trap yourself into a life of being in constant trauma. Instead of looking for someone to blame, what you need to do is take a close look at what's happening beneath the surface of all the lives of the people around you. And here's what you're going to find out. Everyone is just as confused, dysfunctional and out of touch with God as you are. Everybody's messed up. You can't make everything in life fair. And if you see yourself as a victim, it makes it difficult to experience a transforming relationship with God. In fact, you will never experience the transforming life God wants to give you until you understand His grace.
Let me explain that a little bit more in a minute. But first, take time to order your free copy of "What Does the Bible Teach About Grace?" You can call the number on your screen or go to beyondtoday.tv. You know, there are two great misunderstandings about grace, God's grace or His favor. One is that what we've been talking about here today, this transactional relationship with God where you negotiate with God for blessings. The other misunderstanding is that because of God's grace we don't have to obey Him. We don't have to keep any commandments, He just forgives us. And this actually cheapens God's grace. It's an insult to God. You will find the biblical answers to these misuses of God's favor in "What Does the Bible Teach About Grace?" Order your copy, it's free, by calling the number on your screen or going to beyondtoday.tv where you can download it, order a copy or read it right online.
We've seen that a transactional relationship with God isn't what He wants. So what is a transforming relationship with God? And how can you experience this relationship with your Creator, what is it? Well, let's answer this question by looking at the process of spiritual transformation. Transformation, "Oh good, it begins with me just feeling loved." No, transformation begins with the uncomfortable need to be transformed. It starts with a need. It starts with understanding, "I need something." For this to happen, you must have God first show you grace, right? I mean, He has to come down and reach you. You can't reach Him. You must receive what the Bible describes as a calling from God. God literally comes in and touches your life. And how will you know that you've received a calling from God? Well, you begin to experience an uncomfortable need for meaning in life. You know, spent beyond this sort of shallow pursuit of physical pleasures and possessions and living in dysfunctional relationships.
When God calls you, you have to decide whether to respond to God's will. Now you can resist God's grace. You know, with all of His power, isn't this amazing? With all of His power, He could force us to love Him, but He doesn't. He invites us to love Him. And when you respond to God's call, you begin to desperately seek God. I call this desperate seeking because when you really seek God, you will experience a sense of desperation and a sense of guilt. "Well, Christianity is supposed to make me feel good." It starts with a desperate seeking. This desperate seeking drives us to our knees in the realization that it is meaningless to have a life without God. It also drives us to the Bible. And as you turn to the Bible for answers, you will find that this transformation reveals Jesus Christ as Savior and master. And at this point, something very important starts to happen. I want you to listen to this. Your emphasis in life begins to change from seeking fairness to seeking being saved from it, from the mess and dealing with the core problem that's inside of us. And transformation leads you to give up trying control life by your own desires. Instead, you begin trusting in God. And God begins now to change you.
Transformation is transformation. God begins to change you into something else. And we are now to the fundamental reason God wants to transform you. Here's what the apostle Paul says in a letter to the church in Rome, and he was talking to them about transformation. He says, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service." A holy sacrifice. That's an oxymoron, you know what an oxymoron is? You're describing something and it seems contradictory. Sweet and sour sauce, right? A holy living sacrifice, a living sacrifice. What do you do with a sacrifice? They knew in ancient times. In the Jewish temple and the pagan temples they killed them. Wait a minute, I'm a living dying person. Ah, transformation. Part of you has to die so that you can live. This is what this transformation is. And that's why He says, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
Now, how extensive is this transformation? "Okay, well I've got to be transformed, I guess God wants me to love a little more, maybe not steal, maybe stop drinking much." I mean we all can make a list and say, "Well this is what God wants me to do. He wants to transform me by getting me to stop doing these things." It's more than that. That's a surface Christianity. That's not what God's looking for.
To the Corinthians, Paul tells them that their Christianity is like looking into a mirror, a spiritual mirror. And at the end of what he writes here, it's in Corinthians 3, here's what he says. "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord." He says, "You look into this mirror and you know what you see? You see Jesus Christ." So you look into the spiritual mirror. "Oh, there He is." Now, what do you see in a mirror? Usually yourself, right? Well, when you look in the mirror, you're also seeing yourself, and you see Jesus Christ, the glorious Jesus Christ as He is in heaven. And he says, "We are being transformed by the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord."
So you want to understand how far this transformation goes? Think of looking in spiritual mirror and there's Jesus Christ and you're there too. Well, you don't look anything like Jesus Christ. But the more you look, the more you change, the more He works with you, every lesson it's like, "Oh I guess we sort of do sometimes look like each other." What a transformation. You know what the image God has for you to transform into? Jesus Christ. Wow, this is real Christianity folks. This is what it's all about. It's not about trying to make a fair life today. And the reason why God is doing all this is explained by the apostle John. He says, "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God!" Understand the image of Jesus Christ, he is the Son of God, the eternal Son of God, but we become children of God also. That's what He made us for, that's what we're here for. That's the transformation. Christianity isn't just about a set of beliefs or not drinking too much or being nice to other people. It is about being transformed. It's not worrying about unfairness, the problems, how mean everybody else is. It's about being personally inside here transformed. That's Christianity.
He says, "Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him." And John says, "Beloved, now we are the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He," Jesus Christ, "is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure." Wow. All of a sudden, you know, looking for everybody, they have everything really fair. Everything being equal doesn't matter. Life is inherently unfair because all of us are inherently flawed. And the human reaction is that, unfortunately, we think God is unfair. But God in His love and mercy wants to save us from this mess. He wants to transform us one person at a time. He's doing this one person at a time.
Transformation has God making you into his child. It's personal, it's relational, and it involves every aspect of your life. This is what God is calling you to become. And He will lift you out of the hopelessness of this life. He will heal your damaged heart and mind. He will give you an eternal future without pain and suffering. This is God's desire for you. And we're worried about, "Did everybody get the same size piece of pie? Did everybody get the same number of pieces of candy?" Remember doing that as a child? That's what we're worried about. And this isn't what God cares about at all.
"What Does the Bible Teach About Grace?" Discover the answer to that question. And when you do, you can actually learn how to thrive in a world of unfairness. Rise above the unhappiness of feeling like a victim and receive the power of God to live as His child. The ultimate reward is to live forever in His family. Order your free copy of "What Does the Bible Teach About Grace?" by calling the number on your screen or going to beyondtoday.tv. You can order it, you can download it, you can read it there right online.
Let's face it. I've mentioned it before. You and I were born in a world that is out of touch with its Creator, and it's inherently unfair. You can't make it fair. Now God has a wonderful solution to this violent, unhappy, dysfunctional human confusion. And His solution always starts one person at a time. He reaches into the life of one person at a time. The world around us, in spite of all of its attempts, I don't care what society you live in, to produce a positive change in unfairness, it seems to never work. In fact, most of the time our solutions just create more problems. It's a funny thing. In creating fairness for ourselves, many times, we create unfairness for somebody else.
Until you have God transform your heart and mind, all of your efforts to control life will fail. They just will. You know, God will change the world when He sends Jesus Christ to this Earth. And He's going to change it. But right now He's going to do it in your life. He's not going to do it in the greater context of our government, our society, or the whole world.
When we talk about fairness, think about how difficult it is when you start thinking about somebody who lives in another part of the world in abject poverty. Are we really willing to make that fair? Are you really willing to give up electricity, your car, and 90% of your income to make their lives fair? But we talk about fairness because that's what we want. Only God can fix this. Are you willing to become a desperate seeker by responding to God's grace and discover the answers to the issues that plague your inner being? Or are you going to just keep trying to fix your life by ignoring the Creator of life?
I mean, here's the reality. If you keep applying the same old solutions to the same old problems, you know what you end up with? You all know the answer to that. The same old problems. The same old problem. We've got to look for a whole different answer. And the answer, that answer comes from our God through Jesus Christ. We shouldn't be looking for fairness. We should be looking for salvation. Order your free copy of "What Does the Bible Teach About Grace?"
[Narrator] Call now to receive the free booklet offered on today's program, "What Does the Bible Teach About Grace?" The concept of grace is woven throughout the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, yet many Christians disagree on what exactly grace means, and many more struggle to experience God's grace actively working in their lives. Our free study aid, "What Does the Bible Teach About Grace?" shows the vital importance of God's grace in a world filled with problems, worries, and challenges. Get answers to your questions about God's grace, questions like, "Can those God has forgiven reject his grace?" And, "What did grace mean in the first century world?" Order now. Call toll free, 1-888-886-8632, or write to the address shown on your screen. Find out how you can grow in grace.
When you order this free study aid, we'll also send you a complimentary one year subscription to Beyond Today Magazine. Beyond Today brings you understanding of today's world and hope for the future. Six times a year, you'll read about current world events in the light of Bible prophecy, as well as practical knowledge to improve your marriage and family and godly principles to guide you toward a life that leads to peace. Call today to receive your free booklet, "What Does the Bible Teach About Grace?" and your free one year subscription to Beyond Today Magazine. 1-888-886-8632, or go online to beyondtoday.tv.