Posts Tagged ‘justice’

Justice for All

May 17, 2017

Today on Mother’s Day, I am not going to preach about mothers, rather I am going to recognize that for thousands of years, even for kings, the words “Listen to your mother!” are good advice.

I.  A Mother’s Advice:  Proverbs 31:1, 8-9

The words of King Lemuel, the utterance which his mother taught him:

Open your mouth for the speechless,
In the cause of all who are appointed to die.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And plead the cause of the poor and needy.

In the 19th century there was a movement that thought that Christians should work to bring heaven to earth.  The emphasis was placed on making this world a better place for all.  It became known as the social gospel.  It was warmly embraced by liberal theologians.  There was a reaction to it.  Some felt that too much emphasis was placed on the things of this world to the exclusion of the more important  spiritual dimensions.  Conservative theologians gathered around this call to stress the spiritual dimension of the gospel.

It was never meant to be an either/or question.  It is not either the social gospel or the spiritual gospel.

It is both/and.  It is both the spiritual gospel and the social gospel.

II.  New Testament: James 1:27

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

In the first century widows and orphans were in trouble.  The people of God were to help those who were in trouble.

It is still true today.  The people of God are to help those who are in trouble.  It is not just widows and orphans, but any who are in need.  We are to show compassion and offer guidance and assistance to any who need it.

III.  Justice for All

Christians are called to be salt and light.  We are to work for a better world, not just for Christians, but for all.

God is a just God and Christians should be a just people.

We should seek for justice in our families, our neighborhoods, our workplaces, our communities, our country and our world.

Christianity is not just about the life to come.  It is about life today.

 

 

These are the sermon notes from 5/14/17.  All Bible quotes are from the New King James.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress. I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

Advertisements

From The Inside Out

January 11, 2017

Certainly there are times when life is complex.  I know that my life is complex.  Maybe that is why I really do appreciate simplicity.  I realize that as a philosophy instructor this may seem contradictory, as most philosophy is anything but simple.  Theology can be the same way.  We can make the teachings of God very complex, or we can make them simple.  I like simple.

I.  Seek Good: Amos 5:14-15

Seek good and not evil,
That you may live;
So the Lord God of hosts will be with you,
As you have spoken.
15 Hate evil, love good;
Establish justice in the gate.
It may be that the Lord God of hosts
Will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

Amos was prophesying to the people of Israel.  They had stopped following the law and were living sinful lives.  Judgement was coming for their evil ways.  They could avoid that judgement by simply doing what was good in the sight of God.

We need to recognize that we are to hate evil, not the people who do evil.  Evil acts bring harm to all it involves.  God loves people and calls them to turn away from evil and do what is good.

This is not done in our own strength or wisdom.  God has given us His Word to help us to identify what is good and what is evil.  He has also given us His Spirit which will help both is knowing what is good, and in doing what is good.

God is just.  He is concerned with justice of all kinds.  We as His people should also seek for, and work for, justice in our midst.

II.  Do Good:  Amos 5:21-24

“I hate, I despise your feast days,
And I do not savor your sacred assemblies.
22 Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings,
I will not accept them,
Nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings.
23 Take away from Me the noise of your songs,
For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.
24 But let justice run down like water,
And righteousness like a mighty stream

God cannot be bought.  We cannot simply go through the motions of commitment, we need to be fully committed to Him.  The people in the time of Amos were going through the motions.  They gathered together, they offered sacrifices, they sang worship songs, and they lived in sin.

God was not impressed.

As I was praying about these verses I believe that God spoke to me that in v.24 justice was our dealings with other people and righteousness was our walk before God.  That made me think of the simplicity of loving God and loving people, and of doing to others what we would want others to do to us.

III.  Be Good: James 2:14-17

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

We recognize that we are not saved by our works.  “By grace, through faith!”  (Ephesians 2:8)  We also recognize that Christ dwells in our hearts through faith.  (Ephesians 3:17)  If our faith is a living faith, then it will produce the fruit of righteousness and justice.  If Christ is truly in our hearts, our lives will be changed.  This change is not worked from the outside to the inside, but from the inside to the outside.  We don’t change our works so that our heart will change, our hearts are changed and so our acts change.

We don’t do this on our own.  God changes our hearts and our works will change.

We don’t simply do good things, an outside conformity to the law.  We be good people, the people of God.  Not because of us, but because of Christ, who dwells in us.

These are the sermon notes from 1/8/17.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.   

 

Justice and Forgiveness

April 10, 2014

Last night in our Bible study at church, we were discussing the Lord’s Prayer and the emphasis on forgiveness.

And forgive us our sins,
For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.  (Luke 11:4)

We were in agreement that it is necessary for us to forgive those who have wronged us.

Then someone asked about justice.  Just the day before, a family had observed the one year anniversary of a tragic event.  A baby had been shaken by his father, causing severe damage.  The child went through months of seizures, and has lasting damage that, unless miraculously healed by God, will likely be permanent.  While the baby fought for his life, and while the mother and family dealt with the multiple treatments, seizures, and ongoing effects, the father moved out, and was free to go about his business while the justice system went through the various steps leading eventually to conviction and confinement.  The family was, and is, concerned about justice.  A wrong had been done, a penalty should be paid.

How do we reconcile forgiveness and justice?  This blog does not claim to present the final solution to that problem, but rather, a starting point for thought, and perhaps discussion.

I would suggest that forgiveness is an act of an individual, while justice is a function of society.  Forgiveness is an attitude that allows us to let go of the anger, resentment and hatred that poisons our hearts.  Justice is a necessary component of society that punishes wrongdoers, thus preventing us from taking matters into our own hands.

It would be wrong to think that God only supports forgiveness.  The Mosaic Law set forth laws, and punishments for those that broke the law.  These penalties were considered to be just.  It would be wrong to think that the God of the New Testament, with the emphasis on forgiveness; and the God of the Old Testament, with an emphasis on judgement, are incompatible, or different Gods.  God is both just and forgiving.

There are consequences to wrongdoing.  These consequences can be both temporal and eternal.  God is both merciful and just.  We can be forgiven the eternal consequences of our sins, and still face the temporal consequences of our actions.

For the believer who has been wronged, it is important for us to forgive the wrongdoers and leave the consequences for their actions in the hand of God.

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19)

Clearly there is a tension between justice and forgiveness.  As individuals we must forgive those who have wronged us.  As a society we must pursue justice for those who have been wronged.  The Holy Spirit can help us have the ability to forgive in our hearts,  and the wisdom to pursue justice in our land.

Any ads that accompany this article are placed there by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

 

Idealists

November 19, 2009

Carrie Feldman and Scott DeMuth are in jail this morning.  Their crime is refusing to testify before a grand jury that is investigating  an Animal Liberation Front action at the University of Iowa in 2004 that caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to a research facility.

They are both involved in animal activism.  They are both from the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.  They were both promised a form of immunity that provides an exemption from claiming the 5th amendment.  They both may know something about the events of 2004.

They both refused to speak, as a matter of principle.

They oppose the concept of the grand jury investigation. Grand juries do not utilize a judge, or allow defense attorneys to accompany them.  The prosecuting attorney asks questions and they are required to answer.

They do not believe that, under these conditions,  they should be forced to divulge what they have heard, seen, or know.

They are guilty of idealism. 

Since when did that become criminal? 

 Perhaps it is time that we take a closer look at the justice of our grand jury system.