The board game Monopoly was always a family favourite but equally incredibly frustrating. Whilst it was always fun being the ‘top hat’ whizzing around the streets of London (or ending up in jail) it always brought out the worst in all of us. Not only did a game take absolutely hours, meaning tensions ran high and patience wore thin, but it also provided ample opportunity to cheat. Some members of the family were banned from being the banker because whenever they passed ‘go’ the pile of notes seemed to diminish with incredible speed! The game also unleashed a potentially dangerous capitalistic trait in all of us that ensured the potential ownership of Mayfair was going to cause issues for days afterwards.
Although it’s ‘just a game’ (as we were occasionally reminded by one family member) Monopoly often felt like the be-all and end-all, especially when somebody else was winning and family members were taking great pleasure in bankrupting me. My attempts to declare the game ‘a draw’ because I had to go and prepare the evening meal were just met with derision and an assurance we would ‘see things through to the end’
The US Presidential Race has felt slightly like an extended game of monopoly. This became ever more apparent when one of the candidates refused to commit to accepting the result unless he won, claiming that if he didn’t win the result must have been ‘fixed’.
It’s an important question. How do we admit defeat graciously, even when we think we’re right? Most commentators said the candidate was wrong not to commit to accepting the election result, but what should we do in a situation where we think the system is rigged against us? There isn’t an obvious answer, and, no matter how much we might want a section on ‘how to lose well at Monopoly when you think your family member has cheated’, the Bible doesn’t give us clear guidance.
And yet we find in God one who holds justice and mercy in perfect harmony, shown most clearly through Jesus’ death and resurrection as he chose to lay down his power for the sake of others. He was cheated, lied about, mocked and executed, despite being innocent. ‘He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth’ (Isaiah 53:7). Through this act of submission, mercy and grace, God enacted perfect justice on the cross, and ultimate victory in the resurrection.
This isn’t a political declaration, nor is it a solution for dealing with defeat and enacting justice. This isn’t an answer to the political and ethical questions we’re all currently facing. It is, instead, an invitation to behold the majesty and example of Jesus who, with humility and grace in apparent defeat, paved the way for the most perfect justice of all.
Meanwhile, we pray for our friends in the United States as they elect a new president.
With love and prayers
Russell J Furley-Smith