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“Work With It!” Romans 12: 1-8: Key verse(s): 6 “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.”



“All things being equal!” Where that may be the rallying cry of today’s philosophical democratically-driven culture, it wasn’t the impetus for justice in the Brunner household as I was growing up. In the first place, nothing was really “equal” in the sense that everyone in the household shared the same potential or received the same rewards. There were six children in my family and two parents. I had three sisters and two brothers. That would make a household equally divided between the genders, four males and four females. That is where equality began and ended. First, there was the matter of parents. Although there were only two of them and six of us, they outnumbered us substantially in the areas of discipline, the giving of rewards, teaching and provisioning along with the numerous other inherited duties and tasks of Christian parents. No, very little if any equality on that level. And, for that matter, freedom either. My Dad could drive the car and go to work. He could use power tools and, occasionally, spit on the lawn. None of us could do those things. My Mom could drive the car and write out checks for groceries, pay the bills and go on a date (with my Dad) every now and then. Best I can recall, until we were much older, none of these things were available to us either.


On a sibling level, apart from the fact that we at least shared the role of brothers and sisters, equality beyond the point that I had the same right to have clean underware as my brothers, was pretty much limited. Although my brothers and I followed roughly in close sequential fashion, age was still a distinction. For example, being the oldest, I was the first one to drive and also the first of the brothers to own a car. That privilege came with age and driving skills. I handed down my first car to brother number two and he to three. For the most part we lived in a small, closed society that ran pretty well on the inequity dictated by position (child or parent), age and, yes, gender. Despite the fact that all of us children shared some duties like cleaning the house and doing the dishes, the roles within those duties were often specific to gender. Boys were often given the dirtier jobs like taking out the trash or sweeping the basement floors (because of our close association with the element) and girls the more detail-oriented and perfected tasks like dusting and polishing. And, when there was hidden dirt to root out, that was a job for a woman since God has given them radar when it comes to finding dust, grime, and all the invisible elements of the dirt world that are truly hidden from a man’s view. My mother was wise enough to know this. Yard duties gravitated to the boys and household chores gravitated toward the girls. None of us really wished to cross the line into the other’s territory and certainly didn’t feel put-upon by our singular assignments.


Over time, as age and wisdom brought us closer to our parents in freedoms and responsibilities, as soon as our new-found status came into contact with their “sphere of power” the inevitable friction resulted and, like opposing magnets, we were repelled. God led us out into our own little words to establish our own closed systems. Mom and Dad continued on without us as gradually each child pushed upon their level of authority. Although economic circumstances compelled me to return to home briefly after a couple of years, the old powers that held us separate but functioning when I was young were no longer there. It was only a matter of months before I found my own apartment again.


Was it wrong that there was so little equality within our home? Should my parents have shared more of their freedom and authority with us? Although neither of them recognized these inequalities as tangible assets, I am sure that Mom and Dad would have found it foolish to share such things. God had, in His grace, called them to be parents, not children. Their roles as children had been left behind. First when my Dad joined the army and then when marriage called my Mom from her home. The inherent inequalities of the Brunner household were comfortable and sound. The gifts that God gave us as children and those He blessed my parents with as adults were perfect for the work that needed to be done and the love that needed to be granted. There was no need to long for another’s role since the ones given each of us were just right for that time and place.


God calls each of us to do something in this life. And, even when that calling is similar to another’s, it is never exactly the same. God is not democratic nor is the family. And, for that matter, neither is the world into which He has placed each of us. He expects us to honor the role given us by doing our best and preserving the work that has been given us in that role. Unfair? Perhaps! But when you consider the fact that each of us has one foot in heaven what matters where the other is placed here on earth?

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