You know, sometimes the Bible just doesn’t add up for me. This morning I was reading the story of Jacob and his brother Esau, and how he tricked his father into blessing him. Every single time I read this story an intense anger rises up inside of me. It seems so unfair that this guy Jacob has basically been a deceiver since childhood, but yet he gets the blessing. He’s the one who gets to dream about the ladder and who’s offspring will be blessed. I’ve never been able to reconcile this story. How come this bad behavior seems to get rewarded?
There are other stories like this in the Bible that upset me too. Like why is Rachel the celebrated sister that we always talk about when Leah was the rejected one? Why is the prodigal son who ran away and went wild in the streets celebrated and not the dutiful son who was at home and faithful the entire time? Why do the workers that come to the field late get the same wages as the ones who have been there sweating and slaving in the hot sun all day? I often wrestle with these stories. They make me angry and make me wonder WHY God? It’s just. Not. Fair.
At the same time I think these thoughts, I realize how much I’m on the receiving end of so many things that are not fair. I have been blessed beyond measure and Lord knows I don’t deserve it. Why do I get to have running water and the kids at the orphanage in Haiti don’t? Why do I get to have food in my refrigerator–heck, why do I get to have a refrigerator at all? Why do I get to have a good family, good friends and a good job? God is truly sovereign. And he is merciful. And he is faithful. His ways are not my ways and sometimes I don’t understand his ways. I am thankful to him that he has blessed me with things. But these things make me realize my own selfish desires for things to go my way all the time.
All day I’ve been talking over this issue of Jacob and Esau with some other believers and I’ve come to a couple of conclusions. For one thing, I think sometimes we–especially us Christians–tend to underestimate the reality that God’s economy, God’s system and ways of doing things are COMPLETELY counter-cultural, COMPLETELY opposite from anything and everything we are taught in this world. God says love the widows and the orphans, but we want to love the CEO who makes a lot of money. God says the first shall be last and the last shall be first, but we want to be the first to “get mine.” God says love your enemies but we say revenge is sweet. So what is “fair” in God’s system?
That being said, who knows why God does what he does. His criteria for justice and what’s considered fair obviously doesn’t equate with mine because otherwise I wouldn’t be saved by grace.
Although I still wrestle with these stories, it’s very humbling and eye-opening to reconsider my ideas about how things are supposed to be in this world. I think God’s agenda always has been and always will be to take the status quo and flip it upside down. If I could just learn to get that concept in my head maybe, just maybe I’d be able to find some sense of peace and understanding even in the midst of those things that don’t make sense.