A commentary that appeared in The Conversation on 10 December and subsequently reproduced in Channel News Asia on 22 December summarized the year of 2019 as a “year of global unrest and rising inequality”. This article was written by Professor Tony Walker from the School of Communications at La Trobe University, Melbourne and draws attention to the mass protests across the world.
Across the globe, from countries in South America, Africa, Middle East, Europe and Asia, protests are taking place. Factors cited in the article which contributed to the development of this unrest included corruption, the common people not experiencing the benefits of global economic expansion and the widening rich-poor gap. In a word, “Inequality”.
Worldly equality is rooted in the obsession with “self”, a desire to be like someone that one is not designed to be. It is the same desire that Eve experienced when the serpent told her in Gen 3:5 that “…when you eat of it (the forbidden fruit) your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, (ESV)…” An exaggerated sense of self-worth results in problems that we face so often at work, in school and within the home – the problems of entitlement and comparison. Worldly equality aims to level the playing field and is intolerant of differences, especially those that relate to opportunities. Misplaced efforts at equalization result in some of the problems that we encounter in society today.
Godly equality, wrote 9Marks editorial director Jonathan Leeman, “is rooted in the gift of His image” and has its basis in humility and gratitude – humility from recognizing the position that we all stand before God and gratitude from recognizing the image that we bear of God, the baptism that we all (within the family of God) experienced into Christ (Rom 6:3) and the call that we have from God. Godly equality therefore celebrates differences within God’s kingdom, and the different God-assigned roles to build up the body of Christ within the church and the family.
Of course, any discussion among Christians about equality will ultimately point us back to the example of our Lord Jesus, who “6 though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Phil 2:6-8, ESV). Godly equality, when understood in its fullness, requires obedience and sacrifice.
As we end the year 2019, may we be mindful of the type of equality that the world seeks and how that can influence us. May we recognize the type of equality that is being advocated around us and shine the light of Christ to show the world the type of equality that God meant for His Kingdom to demonstrate. Let us seek godly equality in the new year.
By Ong Kiat Hoe, Elder (YCKC Bulletin 29 December 2019)