Even though I don’t have my own yet, I have spent enough time with teenagers to know that the concept of fairness is pretty important to them. Who am I kidding? It isn’t because I spend time with teenagers that I know this; it’s because I was one. And it’s because even just thinking about my years as a middle schooler brings my desire for fairness flooding back to mind. I can remember the day of the huge algebra test that the fire alarm went off in third period. The kids who had algebra third period got to delay their test after they already started it and had seen all the questions. Only I had orchestra in third period not algebra. Those of us who had algebra at any other time in the day still had to take the test just like it was a normal day. It wasn’t far at all!!! Oh yeah, I remember that desire for fairness!
I also remember the typically adult answer the teacher gave. The same answer my mom used to give when my sister and I would bicker over who had more chores to do, the same answer I give now when something stirs up that desire for fairness in my own children – – “Life’s not fair.” Ugh. Even though we know it’s true, both when we hear that answer and when we give it, it is just a hard statement to swallow
Life’s not fair.
Romans is Paul’s longest letter. He has a LOT to tell the church in Rome. Either they have a lot of questions or he has heard a lot of, shall we say, interesting versions of theology coming from the community. Whatever it is he has a lot to say to them.
Some of the things he says are the basics, spelled out simply, but also beautifully. We heard last week, “But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.” (5:8) Other things, like the things we will hear today are teachings that take it to the next level.
I imagine this week’s reading as a sort of answer to an unspoken question – – only I imagine it spoken. I have heard it spoken – in conversations with confirmation students year after year, in Bible studies with women around that library table back there, in coffee shops and airplane seats when someone with some bones to pick with the church finds out what it is I do. The question is this, see if you’ve ever asked it, “So if Jesus goes to such great lengths to save us, if God loves us so much that God’s going to forgive any sin we have anyway, why not just keep on living the fun life? Why bother to be good anyway? We’ll get forgiveness for our sins anyway, won’t we?” Continue reading
A friend of mine from college likes to tell the cautionary tale of her first video conference job interview. It was several years ago when using Skype to talk to a potential new employer was still fairly new and some of the kinks in the system or best practices in general hadn’t quite been identified. With all the technology tested once and then again, she got dressed for the interview. It only being in front of a camera she decided to take advantage of the set-up putting on her best blouse and suit jacket and her comfiest pair of flannel pajama pants. After all they would be out of sight.
Everything started out well. It took an unfortunate turn however, when she excused herself momentarily to grab a resource from across the room. Standing up in front of the camera it was only as she saw the image of her comfiest flannel pajama pants flash not-quickly-enough across the little box in the corner of her own screen that she remembered her chosen attire.
She was mortified when she heard, coming through the speakers, the compassionate snickers of the team of interviewers. Coming back to the table after retrieving the book she needed, she apologized as best she could, which was met with gracious understanding. Each of the interviewers on the other end of the call admitted to choosing the same sort of attire for their own interview, and the whole group had a nice laugh about it.
We’ve all gotten pretty adept at showing the world just the parts of ourselves that we want to be seen. Continue reading