When equality is treated as God

Scripture calls us to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. What would happen if people loved and served equality in the same way that they are supposed to love God? And if people love God as they ought, what happens to equality?

Whatever value people pursue as being more important than another, that principle will shape attitudes, decisions and behavior.  This is why our hierarchy of values is so important. Consider what we learn from 1 Corinthians 8-10.

Chapter 8 opens with Paul identifying two influential concepts that impact how we live: knowledge and love. Neither is wrong. Both are good.

As the chapter unfolds, we discover that valuing either of these over the other shapes behavior.  Exalt knowledge above the wellbeing of others can lead to insisting upon one’s rights even when it detrimentally impacts others (1 Corinthians 8:9-12).

On the other hand elevating seeking the well being of others above one’s own knowledge can cause people to limit their rights in order to bless others (1 Corinthians 9:12, 19-23; 10:23-24). Priorities matter!

Our lives are constantly confronted by multiple values, many of which are good. Whichever value we choose to be greater will determine our behavior.

So what happens if equality is exalted as being the most important principle? For starters, equality becomes one’s god.

Should equality always be exalted over every other value? I am reminded how a professor friend of mine tested how highly his students regarded equality. He divided the class into project teams.

When the teams completed their assignments, he asked each team to choose whether the 100 project points should be distributed equally among their team  members or whether they would like to distribute those points according to what each had contributed.

He told me that some teams valued merit while others chose equality. So which is fair? Merit? Equality?

Is this the end of the matter? Not at all.  Would you want to consult a surgeon whose schooling and graduation was based upon everyone in the classroom receiving the same grade? What would happen to engineering, safety issues and so forth? Will Wikipedia or other information disseminators ever treat all ideas as being equally valid? Nope. Clearly there are times when we value merit over equality.

However, when equality is regarded as primary it transforms everything beneath it. And this includes knowledge, morality, work ethics, compensation, justice, society and the list goes on. It can transform these concepts in unanticipated ways.

Equality is important. To emphasize that God’s judgment is righteous, Paul highlighted God’s equality. God will judge everyone by the same basic principles (Romans 2:5-16). There will be no favoritism toward one group or another. Everyone can expect equal treatment.

Yet, from this same text we also discover a principle trumping equality. God neither saves all nor condemns all – which would be equality. Rather, “he will give to each one according to what he has done” (Romans 2:6).

Thus if we listen to scripture, justice is more important than equality. And it goes without saying that the principles of loving God and loving others are also more important than pursuing equality in everything.

Whatever people choose to embrace as being most important will transform their lives. When we choose to love God above all thus obeying him, then like a child’s mobile suspended by a center string, all of life’s important values fall into their proper and respective roles. Equality will be valued, but not above other more important concepts.

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