This third sermon in our Love. Walk. Do. series focuses on the importance of doing justice. There is always a danger in attempting to find solutions to justice issues with the political system where all solutions are ambiguous in nature. We are called to actively DO justice in our church and communities as a sign-post of the beautiful Kingdom of God because all of humanity has unsurpassable worth.
The focus of this message is around what it means to “Do Justice” from Micah 6:8 as the third installment in our Love. Walk. Do. series. The truth is that a person’s worth has nothing to do with any of the outward markers we normally associate with success. Every person has unsurpassable worth because Jesus thought they were worth dying for and paying an unsurpassable price. Our main task of discipleship and our most fundamental call is to agree with God about the worth of all people. To serve and regard all people from that point of view is the ultimate determiner of whether we are acting justly towards another person. On the other hand, to the degree that we define others by our judgments is the degree to which we are acting unjustly towards another.
One of the most prominent places where we hear the language of justice is in the realm of politics. The conversation revolves around what the government should do to act justly rather than what we as individuals should be doing. This comes up in debates around political candidates, transgender issues, black lives matter and a host of other issues and the positions of individuals tend to be broadly polarizing without the ability to critically hear the other side of the issue. The danger in this is that there has always been a tendency by Christians who feel so strongly about one position to label their opinion as the Christian opinion. Once this labeling happens it puts Christians in the same “us vs. them” mindset as the rest of the world and has us fighting for the best version of the world’s program rather than seeking out the Kingdom of God. We are to be ambassadors and representatives of God’s Kingdom and should avoid at all costs getting into a political debate with non-believers.
We are called to DO justice and there is a world of difference between doing justice and voting about what the government should do about justice. We are called to aggressively fight for justice in practical ways in our church and community and to tangibly DO justice. That is why Woodland Hills partners with and supports ministries around food assistance, job training, low-income day care and housing initiatives.
Do the kind of justice that you want to see the church doing around the world. We are called to model the beautiful justice of the Kingdom in every corner of the globe and empower the church to live out the mandate of the church rather than seeking out political solutions that are always ambiguous.
3 Actions Steps:
1. Examine yourself to see what parts in your own life you are not living out the justice of the Kingdom. Fighting for justice in the world will always feel like sacrifice.
2. Learn before you take any action. It is possible to run into situations with the desire to help and to do more harm than good. See the book When Helping Hurts or the documentary, Poverty Inc. for more information on how to fight injustice without hurting others.
3. Partners with others. Everything in the kingdom works better when done with others.
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3 thoughts on “Do Justice”
Following the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, He returned to Galilee as described in Luke 4:14-18,
“Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free”
In Greg’s previous message he mentioned the prophet Isaiah and Isaiah’s confrontation with the holiness of God (Is 6). Having regard to the sanctifying act of the angel in Is 6:6-7, Isaiah is sometimes referred to as the Prophet of God’s Holiness,
“Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
As Merton indicated in his quote from my previous post, God’s Holiness incorporates His mercy, justice and love amongst other attributes. So it is interesting that Jesus quotes the prophetic Isaiah scripture (mentioned above) as referring to Himself where, the “Spirit of the Lord is on me”, that refers to the Holy Spirit, who was on Isaiah and Jesus…..that presumes both Isaiah and Jesus were both ‘holy’. Hence we can see (particularly) the ‘justice’ and ‘mercy’ attributes of holiness reflected in the verses,
“…to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free…”
The understanding is that we are also to conform, through the work of the Holy Spirit, to a holy lifestyle (that incorporates the aspects discussed in this series) as expressed in Eph 1:4,
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”
And Heb 12:14,
“ Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”
So the word holy is not just a religious adjective, noun or verb but incorporates a goal to where our character or lifestyle should be headed. Greg shared a situation during the message concerning the interaction with a member of the congregation and the impact that had on his thinking. While this may be a stand-out situation that underlines the point Greg was making, I am becoming more of the opinion that all our interactions with others constantly tests our character and hence our growth in holiness (remembering this incorporates justice, mercy and humility), that is hopefully, like Greg’s situation, under the direction of the Holy Spirit.
We read the life of Jesus in the Gospels that is effectively a series of interactions with friends, enemies, the religious, the authorities, gentiles, family and the list continues and, as Greg in effect relates, Jesus is not taking political, gender or religious ‘sides’ as existed in the society at that time (nor should we today), but largely relating all to the ‘new kingdom’ whether directly or indirectly….where as Paul describes (Gal 3:28), “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”.
It’s only a link to “When helping hurts” as mentioned in the sermon notes!
I’m just not sure this is the proper application of doing justice. Advancing the Kingdom of God is not feeding people is it? If feeding people, educating people, clothing people, etc. was the definition of our “doing justice”, then how does that advance the Kingdom? There are plenty of great organizations that have nothing to do with God that feed millions and millions of people. Are they also advancing the Kingdom and accomplishing God’s will? Isn’t the church at most to use feeding, clothing and educating people simply a means to an end? The end being that the Gospel is proclaimed, and those same people are being begged on behalf of God to be reconciled to God through Jesus? Is it truly just to feed someone and NOT share the gospel to them? Is it fair that they should continue to consider their next meal as the most important thing rather than the God who promises to feed and clothe those who put His Kingdom first? No offense, but if you leave that out, you are wasting the food, clothes, effort, resources, and everything else. Just join unicef or send them money. You will accomplish the same thing: Prolong people’s lives here on earth and give them no other hope. With all the resources that go into meeting peoples’ physical needs, you would think Greg should be able to talk for an hour about all the people IN THE AUDIENCE who’s lives have been changed by God through the food, clothing, etc.
One other thing: Greg said that the Holy Spirit referred to the lady who was talking to him as “God’s daughter”. She very well may have been, but that’s not always true, and it’s definitely NOT true that everyone is God’s son or daughter, is it? That’s the impression Greg gave, but John 13:34-35, and 1 John 3:1 make it clear that EVERYONE is not God’s son or daughter! That’s why we need to bring the Gospel to the poor, and those who are treated unjustly in society THROUGH the food, clothes, and education, etc. It’s time for the children of God to stand apart from the world and help people with the ONE THING THEY REALLY NEED! JESUS! If by feeding them so you can tell the the good news, then feed everyone with that goal.