If I’m going to get my just desserts, can I order bananas foster? or maybe triple chocolate truffle ice cream? The phrase isn’t “just desserts” it’s “just deserts,” as in what I deserve. I’ve found the topic of deserts floating around like some deadly spore, waiting to corrupt a perfectly sound system. There’s no escaping it; somewhere, someone, is talking about what they deserve, and what other people deserve or don’t deserve.
Charity, taxes, handouts, death penalty, guns, food stamps, medical care, jobs, government contracts, prison sentences, citizenship, punishment, reward: these and many, many more, are the items we dicker over the haves and the have-nots and the deserts and the deserve nots. I wasn’t surprised then, when a banker friend of mine started talking about deserts a couple of weeks ago, but I was very surprised in what context. He was saying that he always looked carefully over any pre-nuptial agreements that came across his desk from clients and sometimes jotted down notes, so that one day, when he gets married, he’ll know what to put in the contract.
I told him the idea of pre-nuptial agreements didn’t sit well with me, because I did not think it right to withhold parts of one’s life from their spouse. He stated, quite starkly, that any woman who married him did not deserve what he had made before they met. That she might enjoy anything (and I’m assuming monetary values here) he made while they were married, but if they should separate, what he had until that point would not be shared. What makes me uncomfortable with the pre-nup idea is that it seems like creating an escape hatch rather than agreeing to be the captain and go down with the ship. I like Genesis 2:24, “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Would you deny yourself assets? Keep from yourself access to bank accounts and treasures in the event that your foot wanted to take a vacation from the rest of you?
The good news is, this friend’s opinion on the sanctity of marriage has no bearing on my own, personal opinion, and any relationship into which I might enter. That’s between him and his future spouse. The bad news is that it sparked something in me that’s been following me around, creeping up and surprising me with how much I think of it. It’s a dark idea. What do I deserve?
In II Corinthians 11:2, Revelation 19:7 and 22:17, the church is referred to as the bride of Christ, Christ is the bridegroom and we are the bride. What does that pre-nup look like? Is anything reserved from us? What are the terms and conditions of our marriage contract with Jesus? We’re supposed to love and honor him, put him before ourselves, follow where he leads, find our comfort in his presence. He doesn’t keep for himself what he had before we entered into the agreement. You don’t find Jesus saying to the dying criminal on the cross, “You are welcome to my share of my riches from this moment forward, until death do us part” he says “Today, you will be with me in paradise” That belonged to Jesus before the thief met him. There was no holding back. I have received much more than my just desserts with Jesus. His love is not conditional, but I still mess it up.
Romans 6: 23 ” For the wages of sin is death…” That was in the contract. Sin is adultery in our marriage to Christ. We leave the relationship to follow pursuits outside. I have violated the marriage contract and I deserve death. I cheated on Jesus. I’ve done it countless times, but he’s never sicced the lawyers on me. He’s never yet called me into court to mete out the punishment I deserve. I’ve not lost a tongue for lying, a hand for stealing and I’ve not been put to death for gossip. No one has ever threatened to stone me for the sins I have committed.
We are so quick to judge others and determine what they deserve. There are homeless we want to help because they appear to be homeless through no fault of their own; we call them the “deserving poor.” There are those that we snort at as we pass, because they are homeless through laziness, alcoholism, drugs or just not being careful with their money. Those people, we justify to ourselves, do not deserve our help. They are getting what’s coming to them and we call it justice.
I deserve, as much as anyone else, justice, punishment, ostracism, disdain, death. I brought it on myself. I should get a life sentence for all the laws of heaven I have broken. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” I’m going to guess that perhaps you haven’t got what you “deserved” either. I don’t have many friends with gouged out eyes or noses cut off, who have been beaten with whips or rods. God is my judge and jury. I will let him be that to everyone else, too. I’m grateful that I have been given more than I deserve, and less than I have deserved as one with Christ the groom.