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Summary: The Corinthian Christians failed to see the truth of equality with differences, and it hurt the church.

A well-to-do tourist stopped to get some souvenirs at Indian

teepee. When he saw the poor old Indian chief sitting there barely

making enough money to survive, he decided to give him some

advice. He said, "Why don't you go to town and get a job in a factory?"

"Why," grunted the chief. "Well you could earn a lot of

money." "Why," asked the chief. "Well," said the tourist, "If you

work hard and save a lot you can build up a good bank account.

Wouldn't you like that?" "Why," the chief asked? "For heaven's

sake man," he shouted, "With a bank account you could retire and

not have to work anymore." "Me not working now," the chief

replied. And that was the end of the advice.

Here were two men who had very little in common. They were

not equal in their possessions, in their opportunities, and in many

other ways they were unequal. But they were equal in that one

thing that made them both proud to be Americans. They were

equal in their freedom. One was free to work hard and save, and

the other was free to live leisurely and survive at best he could.

When we refer to the equality of all men we need to grasp that

no one means by it that men are equal in every way. This is

contrary to all the facts of life. Not even a fanatic for equality

would argue that all are equal in size and strength. No one believes

all are equal in their talents. Those who seek to destroy the concept

of the equality of all men can find numerous illustrations to prove

that men are not equal. They miss the whole point, however, for

nobody is declaring they are equal in everything.

The question is not, can all women make equally good wives, but

do all women have the freedom to try. The question is not, can all

men bat equally well, but do all men have the freedom to play

baseball? Elton Trueblood, the outstanding author and preacher,

wrote, "The truth is that it is impossible to make a reasonable

statement of the meaning of equality except in terms of freedom.

Men are equal only because all men are intrinsically free..."

Once you depart from the issue of freedom, and try to prove

equality, you quickly get into difficulty. There are many minor

areas of life where men are equal, but they are not a sufficient basis

on which to build. Richard Armor gives us a humorous illustration

of equality. A part of his poem goes like this:

Of all the ills iniquitous,

The cold is most ubiquitous.

It comes to every national,

To sane and to irrational,

To debtor and to creditor,

Illiterate and editor.

And even royal highnesses

Have trouble with their sinuses.

To this minor negative equality we could add the major negative

equality of death. All men are equally marching toward the grave.

Jesus descended to this level of equality with all men. In our text of

John 20 we see two great men literally running toward the tomb,

and in them we see a clear illustration of how men can be equal but

different.

Peter and John were both in the inner circle of Jesus. Both were

granted the privilege of being Apostles and authors of inspired

writings. They were equal as great men of God, and they were the

best of friends. And yet, they were very different from each other.

They were both exalted by Christ, but in different ways. Peter was

made the number one man among the Apostles as the spokesman

for all. He was the one who gave the explanation on the day of

Pentecost. John, on the other hand, was the Apostle whom Jesus

loved in a unique way. John mentions this in verse 2, for it is the

thing of which he is most proud. Peter and John were equal, but

because of the age difference it was fitting that Peter be the leader,

and John be the object of special love. John's youth captured the

love of Christ.

We see that even though men are equal, their age makes them

different in the roles they play. Unique leadership tends to go to the

older, and unique love tends to go to the younger. Later in life John

became the aged Apostle who, like Peter, had great respect, and

authority. When he tried to assert that kind of authority as a youth,

he was called a son of thunder. He tried to be equal to an older man

of authority, and it didn't work. He was young and rash, and did

not have the maturity to be in control of great power. He was ready

to call down fire from heaven to destroy the Samaritans, which was

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