This morning’s message comes from a Sunday school lesson I taught to my high school youth group way back in July of 2012. This would have been when I was living in Newberg, Krista and I would have been married for just over a year and I thought I would be in pastoral ministry forever. It was a time that was defined by simplicity in our lives, which is my topic for today.
Things change don’t they, and often in wonderful ways. One of the practices I had from that time was each week I would ask a check in question for my students, so I’ll do that with us today.
Your check-in question this morning is at what age or stage of life does someone become an adult? and follow up to that, when did you personally consider yourself an adult? For those of us who are already adults at one point did you first consider yourself an adult? When you were able to look around and say “I feel grown up now.”
Worship through scripture:
In 2012 the NWYM office produced one of the best short education curriculums that I still reference today. I called it the S.P.I.C.E. teachings, and each focused on a different aspect of Quaker distinctives.
This morning we are going to talk about the E of the S.P.I.C.E acronym, which stands for equality. This is one of the most important things that we believe as Quakers, and it is foundation upon which many of our other beliefs are built. We as Quakers believe that God has made all people equal, and that God loves each of us equally. In the kingdom of God there is not to be a division among people based upon money, possessions, gender, or anything else.
We live in a very hierarchical society, and it has become even more stratified than in 2012 when I first penned this message. We are living in a time where the powerful and wealthy have even more influence and control even more of the world’s wealth. We even have specific terms with which we categorize whole families based upon any number of factors.
My question for you is by what characteristics do we classify people? Also what are the different classes or levels that people are put in within those categories? I’ll give you an example of what I mean. One of the most common ways in which families are categorized is based upon how much money their household makes. There are 4 standard classes within society; they are the lower class, the working class, the middle class, and the upper class. According to this model the lower class usually consists of people who make very little money or are unemployed, they don’t often have health insurance, they may or may not have finished high school, and they usually struggle to make ends meet with their finances. The working class consists of those people who usually have manual labor type jobs for which little education is required, they are usually underpaid and often have jobs that are physically demanding or taxing. The middle class consists of people who have completed college, and work in fields that often don’t require their physical labor. This might include people who work as small business owners, teachers, managers, doctors, lawyers etc.
Finally the upper class includes those who are ridiculously wealthy. When I first wrote this message in 2012 the top 1% owned 25% of the world’s wealth. They now control over half of the world’s wealth.
So given this example, what are some other ways in which people are categorized in our society, and what are the classes into which they are categorized?
What feels wrong about this? Or the fact that we are so concerned with putting people in their place? Have you yourself experienced inequality in some form? Have you worked against it?
This morning we are going to look at what scripture and Jesus have to say about equality.
Jesus lived in a time where people weren’t treated equally, and the concept of having individual rights didn’t exist for most people. In the time when Jesus lived the concept of treating people equally didn’t exist. The most striking example of this was the vast difference that existed between men and women. For example when a census was taken in Israel during Jesus’ time, women weren’t counted. The population of Israel was considered all men who were of the age where they could serve in the military. Women in most cases couldn’t be land owners; they couldn’t file for divorce from their husbands (a right which men retained). Think even of the story of Jesus and “The woman caught in adultery.” Adultery takes two people to commit, the man isn’t mentioned in the story, isn’t reprimanded or even contained within the title.
The unfortunate reality is that even though we have progressed as people, there are still tons of examples of how we don’t see everyone equally both within our own culture and worldwide.
I’m going to read a few portions of scripture that speak to the significance of equality.
Genesis 1:26-27-God created humans in His image. We equally represent the image of God, which means that God is expressed in women just as much as in men. It takes both to fully represent God’s image.
Romans 8:14-17-We have been adopted into the family of God and co heirs with Christ. God treats us as full sons and daughters. All Christians are equal because we are co heirs with Christ. God looks at each of us and loves us the same.
Galatians 3:23-28-This scripture breaks through our categories, In Christ we are the same regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, etc. I love this scripture.
John 8:1-11-Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. Jesus didn’t choose to judge this women based upon her sin (which she had been caught committing) or because of her gender. Jesus offered her forgiveness, just as he had done to all people. Jesus was so radical in his time because he rejected the distinction between men and women. Men and women can both be pastors, missionaries, anything that God calls you to do you can do. Jesus viewed men and women equally and
Matthew 22:34-40-If we are to love others as ourselves, how is that an example of treating people with equality.
How can we be people who promote equality in our families, in our workplaces, in our community?
This message was given by Jon Maroni at Spokane Friends Church on December 30, 2018