The Place Where The Left and The Right Find the Same Blessing…that they are both in the wrong
Devotional Thought of the Day
17 If you had not helped me, LORD, I would soon have gone to the land of silence.
18 When I felt my feet slipping, you came with your love and kept me steady. 19 And when I was burdened with worries, you comforted me and made me feel secure. Psalm 94:17-19 CEV
The perfect example of God’s love transcending our “right” vs. “left” separations is the sacrament of reconciliation (“confession”). When a “conservative” enters that holy place he suddenly becomes a “bleeding heart liberal”, for he knows that our only hope is not truth and justice but mercy and compassion. And the “liberal” suddenly wants the authority of the Church to be infallible, dogmatic and absolute when the priest pronounces that his sins are forgiven.
I had to think through Peter Kreeft’s words this morning.
In the midst of this broken, divided world, we struggle. We look for answers, and as we do some fall to the right and some to the left. Which divides us more, causes division, and it breaks us down.
We see this today, in the midst of the pain and anxiety that is taking over our world.
In the midst of this, Kreeft finds the place where we have to deal with our own error and our own sin to be the place of the miraculous – the conservative crying for mercy, and the liberal crying for something to depend upon that is inflexible and cannot change.
For there, they both find the mercy of God.
And they both need it.
And as they find the God who draws them to Himself, as He declared the mercy one doesn’t want, and the other doesn’t think they need,
There they can find unity, as the pastor or priest assures them of God’s love, as the words are heard, and you realize that God has helped us, saving us from silence, hold us when we stumbled,
We have all sinned, we have all been narcissistic. and Jesus died for all of us.
There is where we find unity, as we are all forgiven and cleansed.
Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 223.
My Search for Justice…
Devotional Thoughts of my Day:
My Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I am grateful that you hid all this from wise and educated people and showed it to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that is what pleased you.
22 My Father has given me everything, and he is the only one who knows the Son. The only one who really knows the Father is the Son. But the Son wants to tell others about the Father, so that they can know him too. Luke 10:21-22 CEV
With all these things against us, now—in the very depths of our sorrow, wherever we may be—now, as much in the valley as on the mountain, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God.” “Ah, but,” you say, “see how I am arrayed! my graces are not bright; my righteousness does not shine with apparent glory.” But read the next: “It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him.” The Holy Spirit shall purify our minds, and divine power shall refine our bodies, then shall we see him as he is.
I used to think, (and sometimes still do) that with enough learning, with enough time spent in meditation and prayer, that I would gain in my understanding of how God works in life. Why does He allow this or that to happen, or that, how He makes everything run, heck, why he allows “those people” to have authority over a country, a city, a denomination, a church.
I thought I would understand what God’s idea of justice is, and be able to work towards it. Yet I resonate with a pastor who wrote these words over a century ago. I am not able to show grace to all people, and my ideas of righteousness/justice are not always glorious. It is broken, and because I can’t figure out what God is doing, and when that happens I get frustrated, agitated, anxious.
Eventually, using after a period of depression, in the midst of the brokenness I realize that we don’t know everything, we aren’t God, but what we have been shown is more than enough.
We’ve been shown, given, united to Jesus. And in Him, the Holy Spirit is at work, preparing us for the day when we shall meet the Father face to face.
This doesn’t mean I don’t work for justice and righteousness in this world, that I give up and leave it all to fate. In fact, it means that I take my role as an evangelist, and ambassador of reconciliation more seriously. (You should as well!) For as we walk with Christ, as we feel His comfort and peace overwhelm our anxiety and frustration, we take what we know of Jesus, and share it with others.
Especially those struggling with the concept of justice, who struggle against unrighteousness.
We need to know Jesus is there.. we need to know His work, which results in our being revealed as the children of God, and that nothing can separate us from Him. AMEN
C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).
Our “enemies” and “us”, is there hope for healing?
Devotional Thoguht of the Day:
“So may all your enemies die like that, O LORD, but may your friends shine like the rising sun! Judges 5:31 GNT
12 It is foolish to speak scornfully of others. If you are smart, you will keep quiet. Ps. 11:12 GNT
12 For we are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age. Eph. 6:12 GNT
As Martin Marty summarizes in his biography of Luther, “The benefit of faith was that it united the soul with Christ as a bride is united with her bridegroom. ‘They become one flesh,’ as Paul puts it. What Christ has is the property of the believing soul, what the soul has becomes the property of Christ, including the soul’s sins, death, and damnation. Faith negotiates the exchange.”
An absolute and rigid justice becomes a circulus vitiosus, a cycle of retaliations from which there is no escape. In his dealings with us, God has broken through this circle. We are unjust before God; we have turned away from him in pursuit of our own glorification and so we have become subject to death. But God waives the merited punishment and puts something new in its place: healing; our conversion to a renewed Yes to the truth about ourselves. So that this transformation may take place, he goes before us and takes upon himself the pain of our transformation. The Cross of Christ is the real elucidation of these words: not “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”, but “transform evil by the power of love.…” In the Cross of Christ, and only there, these words open themselves to us and become revelation. In the company of the Cross, they become a new possibility even for our own lives.
If I looked at social media as a barometer of conflict and stress, I would be (and admit I get) very depressed, and I would lose hope.
The division and unrest I see is growing, and unless you agree with someone’s political and social views you are considered their “enemy”. There is no middle ground, and if someone tries to occupy such a place, they are insane, or accused of hiding their true agenda. The polarization is causing more stress, and everyone wants a form of rigid justice prosecuting their enemies.
A justice system that is ruled by our logic, and our rules. And we want the justice as swift and complete as it was on Sisera in the Book of the Judges. God’s enemies are ours, of course, and like the fools that Proverbs describes we do not hesitate to pass on something to judge someone on, and truly find them worth
In doing so, we play God, or better, we create God in our image, refusing to acknowledge who He revealed Himself to be. We make the error St. Paul warns against in Ephesians 6 – we think we are to fight human beings and cast them down. We don’t see them as broken and needing our care, and we really don’t want to admit we are broken and need theirs!
So how do we reconcile? How do we bring people who are so angry, so hurt, so broken by others to the point where they can find the peace that comes with such a miracle as my enemy becoming a beloved friend?
it doesn’t start with our efforts to heal the other person. It starts when we realized what Pope Benedict and Martin Luther discuss. The fact that we are drawn into Christ, and in the depth of the relationship, as we are being reconciled to God, as our brokenness is exchanged for Jesus’ completeness, we find that relationship with others healed as well. It is in this transformation that I find myself able to heal, able to forgive, able to love and even sacrificially love another.
That’s our hope in this life, (and that’s but the briefest glimpse of the future!) That drawn into Christ we find life itself transformed. That with given a new heart (Ezekiel 36:25ff) and the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5-10) we find all out relationships being healed.
Our enemy is no longer seen to be that person, for we see them in Christ as our sibling.
Lord, help us to look for your healing in our own lives and praise you for that same healing being offered and available to everyone, especially to those we struggle to like/love. AMEN!
Luther, M. (2007). Luther’s Spirituality. (P. D. W. Krey, B. McGinn, & P. D. S. Krey, Eds., P. D. S. Krey & P. D. W. Krey, Trans.) (pp. 69–70). New York; Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.
Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (pp. 78–79). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
WWJD Seems Impossible…yet…
Devotional Thought of the Day:
4 Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured, While we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, Upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed. 6 We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; But the LORD laid upon him the guilt of us all. 7 Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth; Like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers, he was silent and opened not his mouth. 8 Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away, and who would have thought any more of his destiny? When he was cut off from the land of the living, and smitten for the sin of his people, 9 A grave was assigned him among the wicked and a burial place with evildoers, Though he had done no wrong nor spoken any falsehood. 10 (But the LORD was pleased to crush him in infirmity.) If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long life, and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him. 11 Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; Through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear.
Isaiah 53:4-11 (NAB)
343 If you are aware of God’s presence, high above the deafening storm, the sun will always be shining on you; and deep below the roaring and destructive waves, peace and calm will reign in your soul.
I’ve seen some versions of a post that not only mocks the concept of WWJD, but also mocks Jesus, and His call to love our neighbors. They says that if we are going to consider What Would Jesus Do, it is in the realm of possibility that it would include beating people with whips and knocking over tables.
But too often, our zeal is not for the alien and foreigner to find a place to pray, to know God’s comfort and peace. That place where Jesus did that was for the outsider, the unbeliever, the skeptic and the seeker who would pray, who would benefit from seeing the love and mercy of God pour out into their lives.
We aren’t that zealous about that… though we should be.
WWJD comes from a book by Charles Sheldon, who tells the story of a pastor and a movement who has to deal with someone dying in front of them, a stranger who asked for help, and received too little. The guilt drives them to the cross for forgiveness, and then to seek out how to live differently. To imitate those who imitated Christ, like St Stephen and St. Paul. It is not an impossible thing, it is not a touchy, feel good thing. It is the hardest of challenges, and therefore requires a superhuman effort and motivation.
Motivation not from guilt, but from receiving mercy, a motivation that comes from the presence of God in our lives healing.
Without that, the idea of living like Christ, of sacrificing self so that others could be reconciled and know forgiveness doesn’t make sense. Without Christ’s presence, we don’t desire reconciliation; we desire revenge. Without dwelling in His peace, we don’t desire to lay our lives down in service to others; we desire to protect our lives, our way of living. That sense of self-preservation will tell us that WWJD is wrong, it will justify it because we are sinners, and it will tell us that striving for this, isn’t necessary.
Without the presence of Christ, Isaiah 53 is simply a prophecy. In His presence, this prophecy saves us, and becomes our joy and our way of life. And our deepest desire is to see our enemies receive healing, to know mercy, to walk with God. Our deepest regret is when someone dies without that comfort, when someone lives without that peace. We don’t look at WWJD as law, but as the way of life, we are given. And when we fail, we run back to the hope of the one which
St Josemaria is correct, if we are in His presence, if we realize His comfort and peace, if we know mercy, it changes everything. We simply live in the Kingdom of God, and the storms and struggles are what they are.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 1353-1355). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Justice, Mercy, Thirsting for Revenge or Righteousness?
Devotional Thought of the Day:
6 Arise, O LORD, in anger! Stand up against the fury of my enemies! Wake up, my God, and bring justice! Psalm 7:6 (NLT)
A few days ago I wrote about mercy. A disclaimer, I was struggling with the topic myself. In at least 3 cases, I was trying to figure out how to respond mercifully, and yet honestly. Try to seek reconciliation, and pursue what is right and just.
After reading that day’s blog, and a couple of tweets, a good friend asked how we are to balance justice and righteousness. In fact, she asked me to write on it.
Darn it, now I have to think it through!
That’s what real friends do – they help drive home the lesson God is trying to teach you! And so my friend did for me….and others helped.
Tough question, not just because of the thought needed, but to face the answer, I don’t want to face.
I just want to pray with David the top quote from Psalm 7. Bring JUSTICE! Trash my enemies. Get rid of those who are my adversaries! Whether they be ISIS/ISIL or whether they be… well, God knows who I am struggling with presently. Anf I find myself too often wanting revenge rather than justice. Revenge is never justice; it is a judgment against some in my favor. It is, therefore, contrary to justice.
I thank God for some other friends that study the Bible with me a couple of Thursday mornings a month. We looked not only at Psalm 7:6, but the verses before and after in the chapter.
If we are to hunger and thirst for justice/righteousness AND show mercy, we need to find the point where both are valid. In the Psalm, as we discovered, there is the answer.
1 I come to you for protection, O LORD my God. Save me from my persecutors—rescue me! 2 If you don’t, they will maul me like a lion, tearing me to pieces with no one to rescue me. 3 O LORD my God, if I have done wrong or am guilty of injustice, 4 if I have betrayed a friend or plundered my enemy without cause, 5 then let my enemies capture me. Let them trample me into the ground and drag my honor in the dust. Psalm 7:1-5 (NLT)
Developing a heart that desires justice and mercy starts with examining one’s own heart, and one’s behavior. Knowing how easy our heart can deceive us, we do what David does, we don’t examine it. Rather it is in prayer we beg God to examine it. We welcome His judgment, and the means He will use to bring about in us humility. The humility needed to answer a call to holiness; the humility needed to trust God to make things just, to make things right in our lives. The humility to know we need His mercy, we must depend on it.
For otherwise, a call to the purest form of justice will see us judged.
We need to be examined, cleaned, healed.
Foremost of us, this process of being refined will be painful. It will be difficult; it will be filled with grace, applied to the darkness, most sin-dominated areas of our lives. That grace will sting at first, but will soon turn sweet, and joyful.
It is then we can thirst for justice, and to love mercy. Mercy for our enemies, adversaries and those who we see being unjust. Our being refined will counter that as we realize that God’s justice, at this point in eternity, is still synonymous with other words.
Those things are just and right, and exactly what the Great Physician ordered.
Lord, have mercy on us all! AMEN!
The End that Justified the Means
The End that Justifies the Means
May the grace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, may that love and mercy be revealed to you, and may it assure you that in His presence you will remain!
Is the Journey more important than the destination?
Four years before Martin Luther would nail to the door an invitation to discuss indulgences, a man in Italy, the man who would become the father of political science, and the first to write on political ethics finished his best known work.
Though not in the book as a direct quote, a summary of it gave us one of the best known proverbs that is not contained in the Bible. A proverb many a businessman and many a politician see as foundational.
The end justifies the means.
Basically, Machiavelli held that, “a ruler must be concerned not only with reputation, but also must be positively willing to act immorally at the right times.” (Wikipedia)
One example given on Wikipedia of that is this, “Violence may be necessary for the successful stabilization of power and introduction of new legal institutions.”
As odd as it sounds, there is one example of that proverb, that you and I must be grateful, one time in history where the end justifying the means was not only appropriate, but a blessing.
As the Jewish people struggle with Jesus teaching that they must eat His body and drink His blood, they will struggle even more that in order to receive the promises of God, in order to be His people, they would have to depend upon the greatest injustice in history.
There is a part of me that wants to preach on this passage from the safety of focusing on the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. After all, there are theologians who say this passage where Jesus demands us to eat His Body and drink His blood as being primarily about the Lord’s Supper. And there are some that say it is not. Fascinating arguments on both sides.
It is safe, it would help you comprehend what we do during communion, and it would miss the point.
This passage isn’t about communion, in the way that a journey isn’t about the journey, it is about the destination. Because the Jewish people were worrying about the journey, they missed the message of the destination.
That God would remain in us, and we in Him.
We’ll get back to that in a moment, but we need to see that we are no different than the Jewish people, who though knowing God’s law, struggled with what Jesus was saying, struggling so much that they would say,
“This is very hard to understand, how can anyone accept it?”
It was so hard to understand, that most of the disciples would leave.
Because they were focusing on the means, rather than the end.
We do the same thing today, when we toss aside God’s word. Maybe we consider it out of date in the moral standard. Or when we dismiss something because those rules were okay back then before people were educated, but they don’t apply to us smarter and more sophisticated people today. We argue with God, we try to define what is right and what is wrong. We try to change the rules, rationalize our way out of things, or create a different standard.
A great example is how we treat our enemies, adversaries and those who are a pain in the butt.
Do we really love them? Do we really pray for them? Do we really want to forgive them and welcome to commune with us?
Or do we try to find a loophole, an exception to God’s desire that we love all our neighbors?
Or what about when God says to embrace persecutions and suffering, for the sake of the gospel. He just means pastors and worship leaders and elders. Not bass players and sound men, and ushers, right?
We don’t get it, it seems too hard to understand. We don’t like it when God confronts us and challenge our agendas, or rules out what we like and what we dodo. Sometimes, confronted by God’s wisdom and unable to get it, sometimes we walk away. Just like the disciples did.
John’s gospel shows how hard it is, as it records Jesus’ words, “The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But some of you do not believe me.”
We need it, we need a God we can relate too, trust in, depend upon…
for our very lives.
Remaining in Christ Jesus
One of the things that we look at, when studying the passage, is the frequency something is mentioned. For example – if a thought is repeated, even if a little different, that is called a parallelism – and it is important. Especially if it followed by AMEN! AMEN! or “This is True!” Three times is even more critical to understand.
We know this well. If our parents or our wives or our bosses repeat themselves, it is critical we are listening.
In this passage, the body and blood being sacrificed is mentioned frequently. But even more frequently is something else. Here it is….
“will live forever”
“so the world may live”
“have eternal life within you”
“has eternal life”
“I will raise that person at the last day”
“remains in me, and I in him.”
“will live because of me”
“will not die”
“will live forever.”
“The Spirit alone gives eternal life”
“Very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life”
68 Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. 69 We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.”
This is what it is all about, this life we have with God. That we are His people, that He is our God. That we are fixed to Him, we remain in Him, and He in us. United from the very moment of our baptism, united by a promise, the very new covenant, a promised renewed as He sustains us with His body and blood.
A life given, and shared.
A glorious eternal life.
That is our destination, that is the end that justifies the means that seem beyond unfair.
For one of Nicollo Machiavelli’s summaries became true, at the cross.
Violence may be necessary for the successful stabilization of power and introduction of new legal institutions.”
Or let me phrase it a little differently
Violence may be necessary for the successful stabilization of God’s reign and introduction of a new covenant.”
The violence of a Cross, the creation and stabilization of a righteous people of God, gathered in His presence, by the enactment of a new law, a new covenant.
That is what this is all about… it is why we know Jesus words are true.
Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.”
So eat, be nourished, understand the gift of life in Christ and remain in Him, for there is His peace. AMEN.
A Necessary Ingredient for Faith in Troubled Times…
Devotional Thought of the Day
8 No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 (NLT)
16 Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted! 18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20 (NLT)
581 How humbly and simply the evangelists relate incidents that show up the weak and wavering faith of the Apostles! This is to keep you and me from giving up the hope of some day achieving the strong and unshakeable faith that those same Apostle s had later. (1)
The simplicity and pastoral care with which the Fr. Josemaria Escriva wrote his simple sentences astounds me. I may not agree with everything he writes, but there is so much which resonates with me. Simply put, he often puts the words to what I know and struggle to explain.
This is true today, as I struggle with how the church (myself included) struggles to reflect the love of Christ into a broken and dark world. We get so caught up in our own pain, the sense of betrayal we have felt, our own anxiety and paranoia that we fail to trust God, to have faith in His promises.
The task to have a world, a country, a community that glorifies God seems overwhelming, and even impossible. The world wants what it wants, its version of justice, its version of freedom, its version of love and hope, and we seem surprised that it is at odds with what we know from scripture.
And rather lament over the brokenness of the world, we lament over the loss of power and the loss of our dreams. As we do, or faith wavers, we doubt, we give way to our feelings.
To this loss, the words in blue above speak strongly. We aren’t alone when we struggle; the apostles struggled just as much as we do. They walked for 40 days with the Lord Jesus, after he rose from the dead, after being beaten, crucified and a spear strike into his heart and lungs. And in Matthew’s gospel, it tells us, their faith wavered, they doubted, they knew anxiety and fear. (What else did they need – they had Jesus, risen from the dead!)
That they did, that God continued to work through them, that they would go on to grow in their trust of God is amazing. 10 of 11 of the men there would die, brutally, because they took the task Jesus commissioned them for very seriously. They made disciples, they baptized people and taught them to treasure what God had given them in Christ Jesus.
But first they doubted, first their faith wavered, and Jesus even rebuked them a time or two… for not trusting Him, for not turning to God.
That is where humility comes in, of knowing we are children of God, people who are his, and are welcome to depend on Him. Even when we don’t understand the world any more than it understands us. It is at that point where we need to be humble, to be meek, to find our confidence, not in our strength, not in our ability to argue, not in our witty meme’s or comebacks. We need to be humble, to walk with God, to seek out the justice of the cross. To know the love of God, shown in Jesus bearing the wounds that would bring healing to all the broken people, all the broken relationships in the world. Including us.
As we find that healing in Christ Jesus, we can help others heal.
That requires trusting God… and being humble enough to admit our need, our dependence on Him.
Lord Have mercy on us!
1. Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 1387-1389). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
How Do You Plead?
How Do You Plead? 1 Corinthians 5:11-21
† In Jesus Name †
May you realize the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that mercifully and lovingly reconciles you and brings you back to our Father!\
Two men stood in front of the judge and the jury, waiting to hear how their pleas were heard, and how their pleas for just would be answered. Whether they believed their pleas or not, their long struggle for the justice was about to be answered.
It was different this time, as I handed the bailiff the verdict, as justice was delivered.
In the back of my mind, I heard the words of Barry, one of my fellow jurors, CLICK
I would rather have justice, than the outcome of the law….
How I wish we could have had the time, and the opportunity to share with them the true nature of justice, that they could have heard that plea.
For that day, in the court room, the plea for reconciliation, the plea for true justice, was the furthest things from what occurred, the furthest thing from anyone’s heart.
And as everyone walked away from that courtroom in Norwalk, the verdict we had given was fair in our minds, but scripturally, it was far from just.
You see the wrong plea was entered… the plea should have been the pleading we’ve been given by Christ, as Paul wrote:
We speak for Christ when we plead, CLICK “Come back to God!”
Our Need For that Judgement
All over the news and the internet, people crying out for justice, crying out against what they perceive as injustice. If you talk to a judge or a lawyer, they can tell you the wait for justice can be three to five years. If you talk to those who are pleading for justice, their ideas differ. And a jury can struggle to determine what is truly just, for in a civil trial how can you put a price tag on it? How can you place a number of years in a criminal trial, that will bring to balance the injustice?
Even so, people cry out for justice, for things to be made right. We so want what we think justice is. But here is how God defines justice, (verse 19) CLICK
For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them!
21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
True justice, true righteousness is seen in the work that God our Father commissioned, the cost of reconciliation, of making people right with the Father.
True justice then, would have resulted in a friendship between the two men suing each other, and their ability to do so, knowing that Christ paid the price for both of their sins!
They could have known that, they could have known a kind of justice that would have healed the broken relationship that they had. For as their sins were counted against each other, as they were erased, what could separate them?
That’s justice, and it is so completely unexpected. CLICK
This is how Jesus saves us, this is how God planned for this, as we hear from Isaiah, whose words were written centuries before the cross.
5 But because of our sins he was wounded, beaten because of the evil we did. We are healed by the punishment he suffered, made whole by the blows he received. Isaiah 53:5 (TEV)
10 The LORD says, “It was my will that he should suffer; his death was a sacrifice to bring forgiveness. And so he will see his descendants; he will live a long life, and through him my purpose will succeed. Isaiah 53:10 (TEV)
In the very suffering and death of Jesus, we find all of us reconciled to the Father. That is justice. Being reconciled to God is the kind of Justice He seeks.
From my devotions yesterday, this quote explains it well, CLICK
But when a person has once met Christ, when a person has once seen Jesus and really learned to know him, then everything is changed. Then everything else is comprehensible and life is renewed. And you [priests] have really only one task: to present Jesus to all people in such a way that they see him and learn to love him.[i]
When God reconciles us, we are that new creation, as Paul says, the old life is gone, the new life, our new life in Christ has begun!
Everything has changed, the gift of God that is so incredible!
Our plea is different now…
As we look at what has changed, our plea for justice stands out. It is no longer a plea to some vague idea of justice that favors us over others, it is a plea for God’s justice, that they would know His love, that they would welcome His mercy.
It has changed as well from a plea to God for that justice, to a plea to those who cry out for justice, to hear God’s version of it, to be called back to God.
This is what the ministry is all about, this is what the Christ’s love compels us to do.
To share with each other, that in Christ, we have been reconciled to God. Christ’s work is so perfect, that there is no relationship that is beyond His ability to heal, as He brings us into Himself, as He makes of us, one family, one people. His people.
Reconciled to the Father, which is how we see each other. As His children, as those He died for, as those who no longer live for themselves, but live in Christ, who died and was raised for us. That’s why we plead, not to God, but with people to come back to God.
A plea that is an interesting word picture. We become their paraclete’s, the one’s that come alongside them, lift them up and lovingly carry them back to Jesus. If the word sounds familiar, it should. It is one of the names for the Holy Spirit. That is why our pleading is effective, for it is done in Christ, and by the Holy Spirit’s power!
What an amazing thing this message of reconciliation we have been given, this plea that God entrusts to us, to call out to others, to beg them to see the work of God, done for them, and to trust that God has reconciled them as well.
Two last thoughts about God’s Justice CLICK
When we love our neighbor, pleading with them to see Jesus, to recognize His work reconciling them to the Father!
And there is no greater testimony to God’s love and mercy at work in us, that the Holy Spirit has taken up residence in us, than to plead with our enemies to be reconciled to Jesus Christ.
For it takes a level of peace to do this, a peace that goes beyond logic, that goes beyond understanding, a peace that unites all in Christ, where He guards their hearts and minds. AMEN!
[i] Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans., I. Grassl, Ed.) (p. 191). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
The Cry for Justice…..
Devotional Thought of the Day:
19 And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. 20 By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. 21 And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, 22 let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:19-22 (NLT)
502 If bare justice is done, people may feel hurt. Always act, therefore, for the love of God, which will add to that justice the balm of a neighbourly love, and will purify and cleanse all earthly love. When you bring God in, everything becomes supernatural. (1)
We live in a day where the cries for justice are ringing out, or do we?
At least the cries that sound call for justice.
But I don’t think we know what justice is anymore. If justice is based on an outcome that is demanded, It is justice? if in seeking justice, we have to commit injustice to achieve it, is it right?
Will will seek after justice if we, or our way of life is that which is found unjust? Will we as readily accept our punishment and suffer for what we’ve done, (or not done) that led to unjust actions?
Do we want bare justice? An eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life, ruination for ruination?
Because if we do, we don’t want true justice, we don’t want the other term scripture uses for justice, righteousness.
God showed His righteousness, His justice at the cross, When the value of those who act unjustly was seen – God’s righteousness, God’s justice meant He had to take on the burden of injustice, and make it just and right. That those who were once unjust, could walk into the presence of God Almighty peacefully.
I don’t know whether the which of those in Ferguson or New York, Cleveland or in the interrogation rooms of the CIA, in the Ukraine, the Middle East, the Ukraine, etc are just in God’s eyes. Well let me re-phrase that – none —- none are.. Yet all who believe, all who have been cleansed by God are now right. for they dwell in the One who determines what is righteous and what is just. ….
Praise God my friends… this is a marvelous thing that brings us hope and peace.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1916-1920). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
The Art of Theology: Not Putting God in Your Box
devotional thought of the day:
1 Then Job answered the LORD. 2 Job I know, LORD, that you are all-powerful; that you can do everything you want. 3 You ask how I dare question your wisdom when I am so very ignorant. I talked about things I did not understand, about marvels too great for me to know. 4 You told me to listen while you spoke and to try to answer your questions. 5 In the past I knew only what others had told me, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. 6 So I am ashamed of all I have said and repent in dust and ashes. Job 42:1-6 (TEV)
272 If you are sensible and humble, you will have realised that one never stops learning… This happens in every field; even the wisest will always have something to learn, until the end of their lives; if they don’t, they cease to be wise. (1)
I am a pastor, that means to a certain point, I have been trained as a theologian. If you look at my libraries, you will see a few thousand volumes of books. The hardbacks I have read through, the digital ones, well – there are too many, but I source many of them each week in sermon preparation. Usually I skim maybe 20% of the 100-1500 hits I research, looking for various things to help prepare a message. I probably choose 10-20 to copy and paste and dwell through each week.
Been doing this for a while now, actually changed denominations once, have my favorite authors ( Luther, Escriva, Oden, Ratzinger, Willimon, Melancthon, Walther, Pieper, Augustine, Fracnis De Sales, Robert Webber ) It is somewhat an eclectic list, with guys from different times, different backgrounds. Which leads me to my point. I
We can’t put God in our Box.
We have to take Him as He reveals Himself, even if we don’t necessarily like His methods, His rules, His ways. We can’t say they are wrong simply because we don’t like them. Nor can we say with integrity that He didn’t really mean “that”. Yet to often we do, unaware that pride is causing us to shatter the first commandment.
Over the years, others have done fine jobs summarizing the faith. The three creeds that are held by Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Churches ( The Apostles, Nicene and Athanasian) are good. I am particularly fond of others, the Augsburg Confession and Apology of the Augsburg Confession, and Luther’s Catechisms for example. Pieper has done a masterpiece of theology, so has Thomas Oden never mind Luther and Augustine. But I can’t remember ever page, every question and answer of these theological giants. My expectation is neither can they! They couldn’t in a couple thousand pages describe everything about God, they couldn’t out-Bible the Bible. They wrote great things… yet, it is still the observation of men, not equal to scripture.
That is what Job realized at the end of the book that bears his name. (as did his friends…) It is what Josemaria Escriva talks about, in a section on humility (not, incidentally, on wisdom!)
A wise man once said that, “A man’s got to know his limitations…” Another, Socrates was considered to be the wisest man of his time. His response to being told this was something like this, “it is only because I realize how much I don’t know.” A good theologian talks where there is definite scriptural support – and struggles with that which contradicts his logix, because It is God’s word, God’s reasoning that trumps ours. Even when it doesn’t seem logical, or fair.
Yesterday’s blog was about walking humbly with God, about keeping our eyes on Him, about sometimes that humility is only found in the midst of great sorrow. Today’s is similar, our wisdom comes, not from what we know about God, but that we realize we are not omniscient, that His word trumps our logic. That there is a reason why He is God, that He is our Lord, our Savior, our Benefactor, and we are simply…. His kids.
So give up, for a day or two, putting God in your box…. let Him instead bring you into His glory….
Lord Have Mercy!
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1337-1340). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.