Words mean things. I learned this truth early on in my adult years. Beyond the obvious: lying, exaggerating, shading the truth, gossip, etc....the slanted definition of terms is a popular ploy in our current culture. If common words can be redefine or re-appropriated to take on a new meaning...the audience can be duped into believing anything.
It may have become most obvious in my lifetime when former president Bill Clinton, while under oath, famously said, "It depends on what your definition of is...is." Nowhere in our culture is the defining and redefining of terms more obvious than in the legal/political. The proper or improper use of one single term can bring victory resulting in freedom or condemn the accused to guilt.
Today, we are witnessing the subtle reworking of terms in the political realm with the battle between "equity" and "equality." I've dug deep trying to clarify these terms in today's vernacular and the effort is increasingly difficult. I am convinced it's not an accident.
No normal, red-blooded American struggles with the concept of equality. Our most precious founding document, the Declaration of Independence is clear: "We find these truths to be evident, that all men are created equal..." But equality is not equity.
Here's my distilled definition of terms: EQUALITY refers to that of opportunity. EQUITY speaks to outcomes. Therein lies the danger of terminology re-appropriation. Many are mixing the terms, on purpose, in order to win hearts and minds and twist our thoughts of faith, government and power.
Our nation was founded upon the concept that everyone is placed on this earth by our Creator with the same opportunities: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But not everyone will realize the same outcome in that pursuit, nor should they. My definition of happiness, the freedom to pursue my dreams and take advantage of each opportunity as it is presented, may be much different than yours. My contentment with what I have achieved...or drive to achieve more may be in stark contrast to another's desires and pursuits. That's okay...so what. That's called freedom!
Not everyone wants a college education...but I did. Not everyone wants to be in the ministry and pastor a church...but that's what God called me to do. Not everyone will make a million dollars and retire to the quiet life...but they can if they want. They have the opportunity...but the outcome is not determined nor is it guaranteed.
We must look no further than the Kingdom of God to clearly see the difference between equality and equity. We know that is is not God's will (desired outcome) that any would perish but that all would come to the saving knowledge of His Son Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:9) Sadly, not everyone will. But simple, basic scriptural interpretation clarifies that all have equal opportunity. John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life." That word, "whosever" is very telling. Everyone has the equal opportunity to believe...but this verse also explains that not everyone will equitably enjoy the fruits of everlasting life."
"To all who believe" is the ringing declaration of hope for freedom and eternity to anyone and everyone. However, there must be a response, a choice...the human will to joyfully accept God's invitation and reap the fruits. Jesus, Himself is most clear that rejection of Abba Father's offer will bring much different results.
So...does one's own choice to not accept Jesus make God an inequitable Creator who hasn't given everyone their fair shake? Absolutely not! Sending His Son as THE one and only opportunity to "all who believe" makes His very existence rooted in His love and desire for all of His creation to chose Him. The outcome is realized by enjoying the favor of eternity and the fruit of His love on this side of eternity as well.
Let me be clear. As a follower of Christ it IS our responsibility to lift up those who are not seeing equitable results. At times the equality of opportunity is not fully understood unless we explain and model for them. We should into every man's world (as Oral Roberts used to say) and pull people up and out, offer the opportunities that others have not exemplified. How will they know unless someone tells them? (Romans 10:14)
Our job as believers (and of good citizens) is to increase the equality of opportunity to as many as possible, regardless of race, creed, socio-economic status. The Gospel is the ultimate statement of equality. "The ground is level at the foot of the cross." My heart aches that as a pastor I cannot offer the equity of eternity (outcome)...but that determination is not mine to make. But our loving Father has made the opportunity the greatest mark of equality in the history of mankind.
Be careful with words. Watch out that you are not deceived into rallying around the idea that a government or any man-made institution can guarantee universal, desired outcomes. They can't. It's simply not possible. God never set His own Kingdom up with such a promise. Why we ever believe man could offer such a guarantee?