Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What is Fair?

May 10, 2009

Michele Bontrager Showalter sent us a DVD series called Dr. Wonder's Workshop. It teaches "values" using some Bible verses and stories...all in ASL. The kids loved it. The first video is about being fair. At one point in the video a person asks children in the video what it means to be fair, or not fair. I asked the same question to the children in my class. It is actually a pretty complex concept. They could ALL use the sign for "fair" but they didn't really know how to describe it. We let it "brew" and by the second day they were signing "fair" and "not fair" often to describe something that happened in the classroom.

(If you want to see our video, click on "play button" below. The movie is 4.54 minutes. There is a transciption of what the children are signing in the right column.)

One example is JP's description of doing the job of sweeping the class at the end of the day. One child was sweeping and the other just leaning on the broom. He spoke up right away saying "Hey that's not fair". That incident was a catalyst to get the others sharing their own experiences of being fair or not fair during the past two days. The children were bubbling with ideas and loved seeing themselves on video.

The next day we read Matthew 5:38-41.
38"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
Jesus puts a twist on the "what is fair?" concept. He teaches us that God's justice is different. God's justice requires us to be "more than fair". God's justice is not about making things "even". It's not about equality or rights. It's not about sharing your cookie by splitting it in half. It's splitting it in half and letting the other guy choose first. God's justice is about love, and making peace. Loving those who hate you, giving to those who insult you, forgiving those who hurt you, before t hey even care. That's tough! For those of us who are powerful, who hold the gold coins, who can choose everyday what we will do, this concept of being "more than fair" is what God's justice is about.

There are some who will argue that God's justice is to fight for the rights of the poor and oppressed. With all my heart I wish it were true. It's the way that we, the powerful, think. "I can fix this," I say. But God's Word says over and over again to give to the poor ( Matthew 25:35-39, Proverbs 19:17, 28:27, and 22:9, Acts 20:35, Luke 19:8-9), to stand with the poor (Matthew 5:3, 5:10), to BE poor (Matthew 19:21, Matthew 6:19-20) and that the poor are blessed (Luke 1:53, Job 36:6). Jesus, by example, walked with the poor and became poor. He owned nothing except the shirt on his back. He was oppressed, stripped, whipped, and killed, yet he did not fight back.

Hmmmm. What is "fair"? It's a perspective thing. If you are rich, and God has blessed you with everything you need, you, like me, are so fortunate. I need nothing. I have a place to live, a TV, and computer with internet...and lots of stuff. I'm never hungry. I even have pets. To us, the verses above are a challenge. We try to change the "spiritual context" of the verse..."Certainly they are saying something else...right?"

Yet if you read those verses and you are poor, you shout "Hallelujah!" It's a perspective thing. God brings this good news to the poor and oppressed. God asks those of us who are rich to be "more than fair". To us who have it all, it is really not a burden, but a blessing. It's the essence of PEACE. It's a rearranging of priorities with Kingdom values...seeking first the Kingdom of God and HIS righteousness. It's grace.

To all who have given so generously to me and to our schoo
l, and my children, Thank you! I am so grateful. This message is not to say give more or less or anything along those lines. I was simply grabbed by the concept of "what is fair?" and what God thinks is "fair" and gave some thought to that.

To my Father, our God, who continues to amaze me with his "ancient words" of wisdom that are still wise despite time and politics , gracias Senor.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks again for sharing so beautifully. I love reading all your experiences, the things you are processing, and about your relationships.

    And thanks for the video. I have forgotten most of my sign language so seeing it on video gives me a chance to practice "reading" it. That has always been hard for me.

    Bless you and Go Queen!