This week's "Opening the Bible" blog entry for i.ucc examines the feelings of "that's not fair"-ness that I know we often get when we see people get things when it doesn't seem right that they should.
It’s just not fair that the people who try their hardest to be good always seem to look like the mean ones. And the ones who keep making the mistakes are the ones who end up smelling like a rose! (Or like something else that is pleasant – for those who don’t like the smell of a rose.)
I think like that sometimes.
This week’s Bible reading from Luke 15:1-10 is about lost things. It’s about found things. It’s about celebration over found things. It’s about the great value Jesus places on people who are too often seen as valueless.
But the parables in the reading don’t really make sense. Who would leave 99 sheep to find one lost one? Maybe if there was a group to take care of the 99, but it makes no sense to leave so many in danger to find only one. It’s the same with a coin. Sure – if you lose 10 per cent of what you have you may go looking for it – but when you find it you won’t have a party!
I think Jesus knew what he was saying didn’t make sense as much as it was unfair. I think he was expressing, “Why are you so concerned with what you already have? Why aren’t you spending your time helping the ones who are lost? Why do you spend all your time trying to be so perfect while keeping all those who you judge to be imperfect outside of the community?” to any who would hear – and to any who still hear today.
It was the tax collectors (who had a reputation of being dishonest) and the sinners (in this case, notoriously so) who came to hear Jesus message of love, forgiveness and freedom. It was the Pharisees who paid attention to how unfair and nonsensical the message was.
How often do we fit into the Pharisee category? How often are we the tax collectors and notorious sinners? When does God’s unconditional love seem completely unfair? When do we experience radical welcome and thirst for more?