Multiply Justice

Archive for the category “Do justice”

Is this what happened to the Anglo church in America?

Deuteronomy 8 speaks to America’s comfortable Christians by what the Lord said to Israel after bringing the people to the good land:

— God led the people through a great and terrifying wilderness experience, where they often were hungry. Yet he provided for them and brought them into a wealthy land. (vv.15,7-9)

— God’s purpose in the trial was to humble the people and test their character to find out whether they would obey his commands. (v.2)

— When the people arrived in the good land, they were encouraged to praise God and never say to themselves that they had achieved such wealth by their own strength. They were to remember the Lord is the one who gives them the power to succeed. (vv.10,17-18)

— But the Lord warned them to be careful: “Beware that in your plenty you do not become proud and forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands ….” (v.11,14)

— And the Lord explained what happens to the proud: if you refuse to obey the Lord your God, if you forget the Lord your God and follow other gods, you will certainly be destroyed. (vv.19-20)

— God’s people, then, were called to obey the Lord’s commands “by walking in his ways and fearing him.” (v.6)

The Anglo church in America became wealthy, by God’s grace. We began to believe we had done it in our own strength. We began to worship the gods of our Egypt and forgot the Lord who gave us the strength by which we succeeded. We focused so much on the love of God that we forgot his fearsome majesty and blazing holiness. We no longer have any idea what it means to walk in God’s ways and to fear him. And all the organizations we have built, all the programs we have designed — everything teeters on the brink of collapse.

Our preachers call for repentance, and certainly we need to repent, but we need more than that. We need to recover the healthy fear of God and learn once again how to walk in his ways. We need not just repentance but also to learn how to produce the fruit that goes with repentance. (Matthew 21.33-43)

We need a revival of making disciples who obey their Lord by doing justice, loving mercy, and walking in humility before Almighty God. The Lord is going to destroy everything else.

Are you starving for God’s justice?

God blesses those who are hungry and thirsty for his justice; they will be completely satisfied. (Matthew 5:6)

People who are never starving or dying of thirst will be hard pressed to understand this verse. Those who heard Jesus speak the words, however, understood only too well. They very familiar with what Kenneth Bailey calls “unrelenting hunger and life-threatening thirst.”

Bailey says: “Each day, prompted by hunger and thirst, all people seek food and water, hoping to be satisfied. But for how long? A few hours later, the cravings return. This beatitude makes clear that the bless-ed are those whose drive for righteousness is as pervasive, all consuming and recurring as the daily yearning to satisfy hunger and thirst.”

Many religious people around the world believe righteousness “is no more than adherence to an ethical norm,” Bailey says. To that I would add that most American Christians have not been taught that “righteousness” and “justice” are the same side of the same coin.

Bailey points out that in the Bible, ‘righteousness’ often refers to God’s mighty acts of salvation. Mighty God acted on behalf of the weak and oppressed Hebrew children to rescue them from slavery. Today, God still does justice for people who cannot rescue themselves from captivity, who cannot ever be righteous in their own right. God gives us a new status — “declared righteous.” Bailey says living justly is our human response of gratitude for the verdict of righteousness God gives us as a free gift.

Bailey also notes that ‘righteousness’ in the Bible has nothing to do with “an absolute ideal ethical norm,” but instead is about relationship, and relationships make claims on our conduct: “The unspeakable gracious gift of acceptance in the presence of God requires the faithful to respond,” Bailey says. “The righteous person is the one who acts justly. Furthermore that justice/righteousness is not simply giving every man his due but includes showing mercy and compassion to the outcast, the oppressed, the weak, the orphan and the widow.”

Just as God helped us when we could not help ourselves, we are to help others in desperate need. The way God helped us experience profound life transformation becomes the model for us as we love our neighbors the way we love ourselves.

Bailey adds: “Jesus does not say, ‘Blessed are those who live righteously and maintain a righteous lifestyle.’ The statement presupposes that righteousness is something the faithful continuously strive after.”

Who among us has a passion for justice “as pervasive, all consuming and recurring as the daily yearning to satisfy hunger and thirst”?

And if we aren’t starving for God’s justice in the lives of our neighbors, should we be worried about our own relationship with the God who brought justice to our lives?

Cross-posted at

Acts of compassion change lives … and the world

God’s justice multiplies when his people love their neighbors the way they love themselves, when they personally act out Jesus’ compassion for the people around them.

We would be surprised to learn the producers of this video are believers, given that it comes from a mobile phone company in Thailand. But you will recognize the Voice that speaks to your heart.

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