The Equalizer is a new TV drama about Robyn McCall, an enigmatic woman with a mysterious background. She uses her extensive skills to help those with nowhere else to turn. McCall comes across to most as an average single mom who is quietly raising her teenage daughter. But to a trusted few, she is “The Equalizer” — an anonymous guardian angel and defender of the downtrodden, who’s also dogged in her pursuit of personal redemption. She has her own set of problems. She is not perfect, only driven to help others who are bullied in life.
As I watch this drama, I think of how Jesus came down from heaven and willingly “moved into our neighborhood” of unfair, unrighteous behavior to set things right with God. He came to redeem us. Jesus was perfect, the only real equalizer, who could do what God had planned long before sin took hold of our world. Jesus did more than equalize the situation, he saved all sinners who would believe in Him. Life is still unfair but with Jesus we can be made right with God.
When we were young in high school, there was no better feeling when one of the “cool kids” invited you to sit at their lunch table or go in their car to the nearest McDonalds. You, who sat on the outside watching, was suddenly on the inside hearing the chatter of the cool kids. You soon discover that they are just like you with the same wonderings about school life, similar problems at home, figuring out what parents want, along with just wanting to have fun with real friends. And, sometimes they use you to have someone to pick on because they used up everyone else. Yes, there’s that.
As we “grew up”, we discovered that this social stratum, with same behaviors is also carried into our church life—if we allow it. Most people are welcomed with open arms, at first, until we find out if they are “like us” or not. If guests come back in the coming weeks, then the acceptance phase sets in with information formed through gossip. Don’t tell me this doesn’t happen in our body of believers; I’ve seen it and experienced it—from the outside. We are so troublingly human with our judgmental habits that these behaviors can be spotted within ten minutes of arrival as a guest to our churches.
The “cool kids” stand in a group/clique sizing up who enters. They laugh and talk loudly, pat each other on the back while hugging those they know and accept. “Aren’t we a friendly church?” they think they are saying but in reality, this behavior pushes new people away and confirms they do not belong. Cool kids see new people and smile but immediately turn their attention to those they know and love. Guests will not be invited or accepted into their homes until they pass the test, whatever that is because it is created by the culture of the cool kids themselves. Smiles will be automatically given but as a way to size up the new people coming in. The cool kids put off a pompous air with “we are holier than you are” assumptions that comes from how many more years they have attended coupled with how many volunteer hours have been clocked—as if that led to super salvation and the right to lord over others who have not done the same. (Sigh.)
Sounds a bit like the Jewish clan Paul is addressing, doesn’t it? But we do the same in varying degrees without thinking. We must look inside ourselves. We must evaluate who we treat as outsiders and how we behave in their presence. We must consistently evaluate our habits of assumptions and assessments of people who enter the doors of our church seeking help for their lives…just as we did. Are we truly helping people find and follow Jesus? Or looking to lord over those who are not like us?
GOOD NEWS! Insiders and outsiders have a super equalizer! He is Jesus Christ, Savior and Lord, for all. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God still loves THE WORLD, Jews and non-Jews, insiders and outsiders, and has a plan to bring us all together. Our champion, Jesus Christ, is coming to clean house! Jesus Christ is Lord of all. Are we ready? Jesus IS coming back, you know…
ROMANS—OUR CARE AND CALLING
Romans 11:25-36, The Message
A Complete Israel
(Part 3 of 3)
25-29 I want to lay all this out on the table as clearly as I can, friends. This is complicated. It would be easy to misinterpret what’s going on and arrogantly assume that you’re royalty and they’re just rabble, out on their ears for good. But that’s not it at all. This hardness on the part of insider Israel toward God is temporary. Its effect is to open things up to all the outsiders so that we end up with a full house. Before it’s all over, there will be a complete Israel. As it is written,
A champion will stride down from the mountain of Zion;
he’ll clean house in Jacob.
And this is my commitment to my people:
removal of their sins.
From your point of view as you hear and embrace the good news of the Message, it looks like the Jews are God’s enemies. But looked at from the long-range perspective of God’s overall purpose, they remain God’s oldest friends. God’s gifts and God’s call are under full warranty—never canceled, never rescinded.
30-32 There was a time not so long ago when you were on the outs with God. But then the Jews slammed the door on him and things opened up for you. Now they are on the outs. But with the door held wide open for you, they have a way back in. In one way or another, God makes sure that we all experience what it means to be outside so that he can personally open the door and welcome us back in.
33-36 Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It’s way over our heads. We’ll never figure it out.
Is there anyone around who can explain God?
Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do?
Anyone who has done him such a huge favor
that God has to ask his advice?
Everything comes from him;
Everything happens through him;
Everything ends up in him.
Always glory! Always praise!
Yes. Yes. Yes.
You loved us first. You created a plan to save ALL of us from the beginning of time itself. That plan was your Son, sent to save us from our sins. Once and for all, you did save us. Who are we to question this marvelous plan? Who are we, the sinful people we are, to keep anyone away from your plan of salvation? Who are we to question your extravagant generosity to ALL people? Lord, I don’t want to be a “cool kid” who looks for ways to keep others out. I want to be like you, dear Jesus, who taught us to love each other, unconditionally, like you love us. So, make your thoughts be my first thoughts. Make your desires be my desires. Realizing the depth of love you have for me causes me to love others even more. Help me to walk in your ways. To you be the glory forevermore!
In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen