The Justice of God

At our service this morning (10 January) we considered God’s Justice.

We started in table groups thinking of situations which are unjust – not right. These include the damage caused to our planet, wars, suffering and starvation in Syria, the plight of refugees and the huge inequalities in our society, which leave some families unable to provide food for their children.

These are the things that should make us angry and spur us into action. But in reality do we extend more emotional energy on more trivial things – a referee’s unfair decision, a queue jumper, or the person who took our parking space?

Although God’s judgment might normally be a thing to fear, Psalm 98 talks about nature rejoicing at the prospect of it. That’s because it will be when God puts right what is wrong with the world.

[Psalm 98:7-9 NIV] {7} Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. {8} Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy; {9} let them sing before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.

God’s love and God’s justice are two sides of his character that may initially seem to be at odds with each other, (because justice says “punish” while love says “forgive”). However, on the cross, love and justice mingle in the death of Christ. Martin Luther King linked them when he said “Justice is love correcting everything that revolts against love”.

We enjoy worship at The Rock, but does God?  In Isaiah he has strong words for people who may have thought they were doing what pleased God.[Isaiah 1:14-15 NIV] {14} Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. {15} When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood!

The problem was that while going through the motions of religion, they were failing to care for fellow humans who were made in God’s image.

James is very clear about the type of religion that God wants from us:[James 1:27 NIV] {27} Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

The same message comes through the prophet Micah: [Micah 6:8 NIV] {8} He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

If my son fell of his bike and crawled bleeding to your door, would you leave him there while you sent me an email thanking me for today’s teaching? How would I feel when I got the email?  How does God feel when we sing songs of worship and commitment but neglect to care for his children that are in need?

We may be daunted by the scale of global problems, and feel powerless.  But there are local needs where we can make a real difference. Do we buy the Big Issue? Do we know the name of our Big Issue seller? It’s clear that God is calling us – as Christ’s representatives on earth – to show the same passion for justice that Jesus did.

We need to make sure we are informed about these big issues, and pray about them. In answer to prayer, God brought down the apartheid regime in South Africa.

We watched a video from World Relief that encourages us not to give up the pursuit of justice.

 

Psalm 72 reminds us that God favours the poor, afflicted and needy. And we should too.[Psalm 72:1-4 NIV] {1} Of Solomon. Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness. {2} May he judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice. {3} May the mountains bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness. {4} May he defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; may he crush the oppressor.

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