January 27, 2003
Equal, Unequal - What a Difference!
by Donald G. Mashburn

The Declaration of Independence tells us we’re all “created equal." And we do come into this world more or less equal, at least with respect to our rights as Americans and in our relationship with God.

But in life we start off being equal, then we go through successive stages of becoming unequal, equal again, and finally unequal, depending on the choices we make.

In our first equal stage, we are born with individual, but not necessarily economic, equality. We’re born helpless. We’re dependent on our mothers and others for survival. We provide no input for decisions affecting our survival or direction in life.

In this first equal phase, we have no say in who our parents are, or how they raise us. And like all others in this initial stage, we each have a relationship with God. We’re created in His likeness and enjoy a special relationship with Him, whether we’re born to Christian or non-Christian parents. We’re all equal in God’s sight.

We have no control over this first equal stage. Later, we do control the things that cause us to become unequal. The inequality begins when we’re old enough to be accountable for our own actions. We become unequal in the habits we permit to control us, and the attitudes we develop toward life and religion, and especially toward God.

The greater the differences in the beliefs we embrace, the more unequal we become. In other words, the separation between us is the result of choices we make in life. In this first unequal stage, we make the decisions, for better or worse.

Right choices and wrong choices will, over a lifetime, determine the extent to which equals become unequal. But if our choices are based on God’s plan for our lives, we then have an opportunity to be equal to the best God has for us.

After our life choices have changed us, old age or illness, or both, moves us from the unequal stage to the next equal phase. We don’t make the decision to enter this stage; time makes it for us. Aging and infirmities create an “equality” we had just as soon not have. But all physical life winds down. Eventually, we all share in the process of aging and deterioration. We are all then equal to share the effects of aging, infirmity, and wearing out.

But we don’t have to stay equal. Those whose lives are built on their faith in God find that in life’s final stages the ultimate “unequal-ness” occurs. In this phase, faith makes a huge difference in how we live, handle adversity and illness, and meet death.

Christians face death with hope – even with anticipation and joy. They are blessed with the grace and peace that comes from God's promise of eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ. Unbelievers face eternal separation from God.

Ultimately, in the final stage of our earthly run, the choices and decisions made regarding God and His Son, Jesus Christ, are what make believers and unbelievers unequal again. They’re unequal, and different!

But what a difference! Scripture tells us a Christian is “an heir of God through Christ” (Galatians 4:7). Christians are also “joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17).

Notice how the equal phases are not under our control, but the things that make us unequal are. We make the choices reflected in our beliefs, values, and acceptance of God's marvelous grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

We can choose to be equal with non-believers, and live as a non-believer. But in doing so, we would forfeit the chance to be unequal for God, and receive His help when we need it most. And we would miss the opportunity – reserved for believers only – to share a blessed eternity with those who made the right choices, and with Him who makes it possible.

What a difference!