Hello friends ! I do want to make this as concise as I can – I have been thinking a lot about the racial unrest in our country (and especially how this unrest reveals a lot of ugly truth about the church at large – its complicity in segregation & racism…). I’ve been coming to grips with my own preferences, prejudices, and failings but also wrestling with how I have seen the conversation of justice play out in the local church and the church at large.
I stumbled upon a journal entry from a year ago during a time my husband and I were reading through Eric Mason’s “Woke Church,” as we wrestled with the issues which were presented in this book personally. This entry is all the more timely today as the world continues in discussions about justice and we await change in the focus of the church at large.
We had just read a section of the book entitled, “The Gospel & Justice.”
January 6, 2019
In such simple words Mason spelled out the gospel’s power in reconciling both God and man by faith and man to man by faith that we don’t have an option not to reconcile with one another due to the call we have by faith in Christ !
And it became apparent that this must shape us: “there is not an attitude of God without action; the two are one” (Austin Farrer). Get into that truth – Whew chile !
tsedaqa is Hebrew for “righteousness” and mishpat , “justice.” And dikaiosyne is the Hebrew word for “justification.” Each of these words is relational – in relation to and always derived from the character of Almighty God, Yahweh.
God created us to bear his image – to change systems; build cultures; communities; families… He created us to subdue the earth, and in doing so our kingdom activity revealing/pointing others to the need for their souls to be changed.
The gospel’s work is both intrinsic and extrinsic and yet it seems- like the Pharisees and Scribes , we get stuck on the intrinsic or we think we’re at a certain place because of our theology BUT if we stop there we fail to see and have a holistic view and understanding of the gospel.
We’re reduced to, as Mason – quoting Mathew 23:23 calls it, “many minutiae.” For the Pharisees & Scribes this minutiae was tithing herbs. The big picture is that our wrong prioritization/ focus on these minutiae neglects what Jesus tells them are the “weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faithfulness.”
So in our day we have to, before & with, making social justice mission statements, examine our theology – what themes in the Bible are we blatantly ignoring to focus solely on the minutiae . What is the minutiae of our day?
If our focus on these things causes us to miss out on sharing the gospel, we’ve majorly missed our call as image bearers and sorely failed to be who God has made us to be – the salt & light that shines truth and light into a broken and dark world (see Matthew 5:14-16).
We cannot …
- …Serve a holy God and ignore our call to work out our sanctification (in every area)
- …Taste and see that the Lord is good and not share this with others
- …Claim trust in a just God and call ourselves His people, but not do justice
- …Tell the world we serve a God of comfort and peace but ignore the pain and chaos around us
- … Claim to serve a God who is not partial but be partial to our preferences
- … Claim to serve a loving God and fail to show love
- … Claim to serve a God who is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, yet be short tempered and hold grudges
- … Revel in God’s kindness yet not be kind and tenderhearted
We are called to forgive as God in Christ forgave us (Ephesians 4: ); to love because He first loved us; to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8)
So what do we do ? We don’t merely hold conversations to agree with what scripture clearly gives as a call to act. The Pharisees & Scribes certainly agreed with justice, mercy, and faithfulness as a concept, but their actions did not show this. That is why Jesus called them hypocrites. We have to act in line with the attitudes we claim to believe in relation to the character of the Lord our God who is personal and relational (not just through His Word but through His deeds – which culminated in the sacrifice of Jesus’ life on the cross for our sins – the ultimate expression of love!