An Unfair Salvation
That’s Not Fair!
Those three words raise my blood pressure a bit, for one of two reasons: 1.) from my own experiences of feeling something is “unfair,” and, 2.) recalling times when, as a parent of three, our children blew their “fairness whistle,” and my wife Kim or I had to step in and play judge and jury.
Given five minutes, we could all probably think of 100 real stories of when life just didn’t seem fair.
Some readers may remember Dave Dravecky, an All-Star MLB pitcher during the 1980s with the Padres and later the Giants. Dravecky and three of his teammates were nicknamed “the God Squad” for boldly living out their Christian faith. When the team traveled, they chose to have Bible studies together in hotel rooms while teammates were out carousing.
In 1989, in the prime of his MLB career, Dravecky was forced to retire early - due to a cancerous tumor in his pitching arm. Two years later, his arm was amputated. If you or I were Dravecky, our natural reaction might be anger and disillusionment. “God, I stand for you and your values in a seemingly godless environment, and this is what I get?”
I had a situation six years ago that, for me, felt like an unfair and unplanned crisis. I had been working for my college alma mater in an important leadership role, what felt like a dream job. A major benefit of the position was for our three children to attend the private Christian university tuition-free - a $200K+ value. When my oldest child was entering high school, my boss over-reacted to a decision I had made and demoted me to a lesser leadership role which he said would be phased out within five months. I was humiliated and devastated, and for the next few months I was in an emotional fog. A particular low point was the day I left my corner office for a smaller one - while colleagues were watching.
Any of us in a crisis have a choice: to drown in our sorrow, or press ourselves into Christ’s grace to rise above it.
In Dave Dravecky’s case, he went on to write inspirational books and become a motivational speaker, influencing hundreds of thousands of people to cling to hope and to receive salvation through Christ.
In my case, I was hired by Horizons Church to be a church planter – and five years ago this month, with God’s help, we opened our campus in Junior. More than 70 people have since been saved and baptized in Barbour County, as a result of God redirecting my family’s path. My role as a campus pastor is more rewarding than my former job was, and despite increasing responsibility is also way less stressful than my former job was.
Perhaps you are going through a crisis right now. Even if you believe in Jesus – there are times in which life just seems unfair. Perhaps someone has wronged you, or things just seem hopeless.
Dravecky once illustrated how God can work in us during the valleys of our life. He said mountaintops lack lush vegetation, due to lesser soil quality. It’s in the valleys, he said, where the soil is the richest – and where we grow the best.
I know that’s been true for me. It’s during the hard times when we often depend completely on God - or at least more so than when things are going our way. Challenging seasons that feel unfair often drive us to our knees in prayer, seeking God’s wisdom and direction.
An Unfair Salvation
If any human in the history of the planet had the right to cry “Unfair!” it was Jesus. Jesus is 100% human and 100% God. He, as part of the Trinity, helped create the very earth we live on, the galaxy our planet inhabits, and everything beyond – including all of us. Our hearts were made for him (Colossians 1:15-16).
But tragically, God can’t allow sin to enter into his perfect presence (Revelation 21:27), and we are a hopelessly sinful people - and thus, we are doomed to be separated from him. In order be forgiven of these sins, a sacrifice must be made. For a time, the blood of bulls and goats temporarily covered our sins, but did not take them away (Hebrews 10:4). A more perfect sacrificed had to be offered - and Jesus, the perfect and beloved Son, agreed to his Father’s perfect plan to be that sacrifice.
Every time I read in Scripture (or see in movie portrayals) the story of Jesus’ crucifixion, I am awestruck at the cruel Roman soldiers beating Jesus, the very person who gave us everything – including himself. It was unfair what Jesus endured during that dark dark. He didn’t deserve any of it – the false allegations, humiliation, brutal flogging, and spikes driven into his hands and feet. I can’t imagine that painful death. He knew what was going to happen, but went through with it anyway to pay the price for our sin - the supreme display of love (John 15:13).
What is left to us? Simply confess we’ve sinned, accept God’s free gift of salvation, and allow the Holy Spirit to continually transform us and conform us into the image of Christ. It cost Jesus everything, yet is free to us who are humble enough to receive it.
What’s fair? For each of us to eternally pay for our sin.
But God has intervened. He has done the unthinkable. The spotless Lamb of God suffered and died in our place to be the once-and-for-all sacrifice for our sins. How unfair - and I praise God for his “unfair” plan to save all who believe!