Generous Justice

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In Timothy Keller’s book, Generous Justice, he describes the character of God as it’s revealed in the Old Testament.  God is on the side of the poor and marginalized.  Justice reflects His very character.  For this reason, we too should care for the vulnerable ones.  Consider Psalm 146:7-9:

He executes justice for the oppressed and gives food to the hungry.  The Lord sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, he lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves those who live justly.  The LORD watches over the immigrant and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. 

This of course, is one example of hundreds that depicts the character of God as one who is on the side of the marginalized.  Keller writes,

Israel was charged to create a culture of social justice for the poor and vulnerable because it wasthe way the nation could reveal God’s glory and character to the world.  Deuteronomy 4:6-8 is a key text where Israel is told that they should keep God’s commands so that all the nations of the world will look at the justice and peace of their society, based on God’s laws, and be attracted to God’s wisdom and glory. (Page 9)

The People of God were to be known as a reflection of the very character of God.   God’s people were commanded to not to have neglected poor among them.  They would be a society of people that would care for the poor, orphan, widow, and marginalized and would then reveal the heart of God.

Keller describes Jesus’ care for the poor by saying;

Jesus, in his incarnation, “moved in” with the poor.  He lived with, ate with, and associated with the socially ostracized (Matt 9:13).  He raised the son of the poor widow (Luke 7:11-16) and showed the greatest respect to the immoral woman who was a social outcast (Luke 7:36) (page 44) His own mother prophesied that he would “fill the poor” but turn the rich away empty (Luke 1:53) (page 45)

It is undeniable that the scriptures are filled with narratives and commands to care for the poor, widowed, orphaned, outcast and marginalized.  There are far more passages that command the people of God to be a community of justice than living moral lives.

What are we, the people of God, doing to care for the marginalized?  Is the church a society of people that declares it’s passion to care for the oppressed?  It is clear that God is on the side of the poor.  Do you think God is on also on the side of the rich?  Please share your thoughts. 

Why blog? Why now?

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I have never considered myself to be a writer.  Since I can remember, verbal communication has been my greatest strength and writing has been my greatest weakness (except for math but we won’t even go there!).  There are times I’m afraid to hit “send” on an email for fear of incorrect grammar and punctuation.  In High School, I received many C’s on research papers.    

Writing just hasn’t been my thing.  I sometimes dread it.

Have I suddenly tapped into the unseen mysteries of God?  Not even close.  The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.  Do I consider myself to be a genius and feel the need to bless the world with my wealth of knowledge? Heck no.  When it comes to most any subject, I don’t consider myself to be an expert or leading authority.  My knowledge of most things is a mile wide and an inch deep.  A lot of things pique my interest, really.  Most blogs I am drawn to are by someone who has authored many books, or is some sort of expert in their area.

Truth? I’m just an average gal who is madly in love with God and God’s people.

Lately, God has been doing some new things in my heart and I don’t think there is any way of keeping it inside of me.  I can’t quite explain it, but God has placed a burning desire within me to start writing.  I ignored it, set it aside, and argued.  “Lord, why me? Why now? Writing just isn’t my thing.  Can you put this calling on someone who is talented at writing?”  I’m overcommitted and slightly stressed these days.  I have 2 precious little ones who want Mommy around the clock, I am a full-time seminary student, and I serve on the Teaching Team and Student Ministry Team at Good Shepherd Church.  When would I ever find time for this?

Nonetheless, here I am behind my laptop pecking away. 

Why blog?  I hope to start conversation.  There is so much going on in our world that God’s people refuse to look at.  We choose to have selective hearing and selective sight.  But I also think this blog will help me dig deep and learn how to communicate through writing.  I want to be pushed and get better at this.

Who is this blog for? Everyone.  However, my target is the average pew sitter.  I doubt I will write anything so earth shattering and groundbreaking that the academic community will rise up and call me blessed.  That’s not my goal.  I want to start conversation with people about what it means to live the Kingdom life.  I also hope to bring to light different injustices in our world and engage others to do something about it.  Finally, I want to have fun so let’s do it together. 

What is Hope?

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In my last post, I concluded with the proposal that our God, the Lion of Judah, cannot be pushed out by any institution, law, or human activity.

But I am still sad.  I am still grieving.  My sorrow doesn’t even compare to the anguish the families in Newtown, Connecticut are experiencing.  I’ve been going on with my daily tasks of caring for the boys, responding to emails, cooking meals, taking care of Church work, writing sermons, and reading.

But it feels so wrong. 

There’s no easy answer, is there?

Its times like this we look for answers and we look for signs of hope.

It doesn’t take a genius to know that our world is dark and shattered.  Humanity is broken.  No matter how many books I read and how many Theology classes I take, I just can’t wrap my brain around all of the pain and distress.

The depth and width of evil is far beyond what I can see or understand.  This I do know: our God is bigger than anything. 

It is in times like this, I cling to Jesus as the only answer.  Jesus knows the pain far greater than any of us.  He came to the poor, marginalized, and broken.  On the cross, he went to the bottom of the pile and took the world’s brokenness, hate, darkness, sin, and evil upon himself and obliterated it.  He conquered the grave and rose to new life.  He is truly the first born from among the dead.

It is in Christ that we, the broken people of God, find restoration and healing.  We become a new creation and begin to bear God’s image in this world.  We have hope that God can take this decaying mess of misfits and restore us to be his image bearers in this world.  Transformation must begin now.

 It is in Christ we can have hope that we too will rise to new life.  Until then, we wait, we live, and we have hope.  The Apostle Paul writes,

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

Romans 8:18-21

Someday, we will all be liberated from our decaying lives. We can have hope in what’s to come.  Read from the Revelation of John:

 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Revelation 21:2-4

But we don’t sit back, prop our feet up, and say “someday.”  No, we live the Kingdom life now. We live the words of Jesus said in the Shema, “Love God with everything and love people like yourself.”

People of God,

Wake up.  Live the Kingdom lifestyle now.  Live Life in Christ.  Love your neighbor. Go to the marginalized.  Give until it hurts.  Love God with everything.  Don’t wait, do it now.

Therefore, we have hope that anyone who is in Christ becomes a new creation and bears God’s image in this world.  Collectively, as a people of God we shine the Light of Christ in the dark places.  We also have hope that someday, we will partake in the future resurrection and will experience a new life where there will be no more “death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

I have hope.   

The Untamed Lion

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 It was a silent night.  Actually, it had been many silent nights of deafening silence.  God’s people, the Israelites, were under an incredible amount of oppression from the ruling Government and King.  I imagine many prayers went something like this, “How long, oh, Lord? How long will we wait for your deliverance as in the days of Moses?”  In the midst of the silence and oppression were the people of God filled with longing, expectation, and hope.

The promise of a King was on the horizon.

An Angel of the Lord appeared to Mary, a very poor and devout Jewish girl, and promised that she would bear God’s Son.  Imagine the questions that swirled in her mind intertwined with anxiety and joy. 

“Me? Bear the Son of God?”

When she lay awake at night feeling tiny kicks in her tummy, did she know she would give birth to the one who would bring deliverance to God’s people?

And somehow this son of God would also be fully human. Jesus would laugh, cry, and be angry.  He would live among the poor, love on the sick and sinner, ride a donkey, fish on a boat, and forgive the sinners.  Did she know that she would witness the cross, the grave, and the resurrection?

This is the story of Christmas: God became flesh, lived an earthly life, emptied himself of power, submitted his life to death on a cross, and three days later was raised from the dead.

He is alive.  He is at work.  He is King.  He is Emmanuel, which means “God with us.”

Lately I’ve seen a lot of Facebook posts scroll through my newsfeed saying something like this, “God has been kicked out of our schools.  Let’s bring back God.”

What?  We kicked out God?  We’ve accomplished what no other king, kingdom, war, or power has been able to do?  It’s our responsibility to bring God back? Wow.  Have we forgotten what really happened on the first Christmas?

Our God is an untamed LION, nothing can keep him awayNo law, no institution, no legislation, no school, no senator, no human, can hold back our King. 

He is in our schools.  It is so arrogant to think that legislation from the top down can “usher out the presence of God.”  It is crazy to think that we can somehow “usher God back into our schools.  We forget that the incarnation happened during a time King Herod wanted to be the only King and wanted no part of another King taking over.  We forget that Our King was put to death on a cross because the Government wanted him gone.

 Not even death on a cross could keep him away.

 Three days later he rose from the grave and ascended to HIS THRONE.  Jesus is King.

We forget that the early church thrived under intense religious persecution.  Thousands of Christians laid down their lives under rulers such as Domitian and Nero.  Not even this could keep God away.  In fact, I believe the lack of Christian persecution in our country has caused many of us to be lazy and weak in our faith.

Let us not be so naïve to think that our puny actions lock the Lion of Judah into a cage.

He cannot and will not be tamed.

Stay tuned for part 2.