Tag Archives: God’s Justice

Taking Sides

Living in the Spirit
August 23, 2017

Scripture Reading: Psalm 124

If it had not been the Lord who was on our side
   —let Israel now say—
if it had not been the Lord who was on our side,
   when our enemies attacked us,
then they would have swallowed us up alive,
   when their anger was kindled against us;
then the flood would have swept us away,
   the torrent would have gone over us;
then over us would have gone
   the raging waters.

 Our help is in the name of the Lord,
   who made heaven and earth. –Psalm 124:1-5, 8

Rabbi Harold Kushner explores well the issue of faith in the midst of tragedy in his book When Bad Things Happen to Good People. We are called to pray for all kinds of disasters and illness, and we do. As much as we try to grapple with God’s presence in the face of tragedy, it remains a mystery cloaked in our very human reactions.

I believe that God is love and is present with us in all of life’s challenges. I also believe that God does not favor any of God’s children over any of God’s other children. I do not remember who said it, but someone was reported to say something to the effect that God was the first one to cry following the Oklahoma City bombing. I believe that to be true.

Matthew quotes Jesus as saying

 ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:43-45)

The last phrase of this scripture is the most familiar. I think it important that we read the full saying. The Lord is always present and is always on the side of love no matter what. Our faith in that plays out in our worldview and our response to others. As part of the Body of Christ we are called to be instrumental in refocusing our world toward the rule of love.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your patient love. Let it flow through each of us to all of us. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

Is Greed Idolatry?

GreedLiving in the Spirit
September 2, 2016

Scripture Reading: Philemon 1-21

Perhaps this is the reason he was separated from you for a while, so that you might have him back for ever, no longer as a slave but as more than a slave, a beloved brother—especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. –Philemon 15-16

Theologians Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan, in their book The First Paul, examine the letters identified as authentically Paul’s in the New Testament. Paul is ascribed as the author of seven of these letters*, the dispute remains on the authorship of three**, and three seem to be reactionary to Paul’s original writings***. In Galatians 3:20 Paul writes, there is no longer slave or free. Colossians 3:22 states Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything. Titus 2.9 advises church leaders to Tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect. There seems to be a move away from Paul’s interpretation of the teachings of Jesus toward a more culturally correct attitude even before the compilation of the Bible in the form we now know. Philemon reflects the radical love that Paul saw in Jesus.

Paul apparently never met the person Jesus. He encountered the living Christ on an infamous trip to Damascus. In his own words, Paul describes himself as a very devout follower of his faith to the extent that he was persecuting the followers of Jesus for veering from that faith. Most cannot fathom Paul’s experience in that encounter, but it left him with a totally new and in-depth view of God’s love. John Newton, the author of Amazing Grace, most likely could empathize with Paul. A slave trader, Newton had an encounter with the living Christ that totally turned his life around ending his slave trading and starting a commitment to ending slavery.

Our society tends toward culturally correct justice as opposed to God’s justice. Some years ago I read of an inner-city teen killing another youth so he could have some brand-named shoes. The teen quickly prosecuted and soon dispatched to the junk-pile of wasted humans, now serves a life-in-prison sentence without parole and with little hope of redemption. Now, I hear of pharmaceutical companies selling lifesaving medications at outrageously high prices while manufactured at low cost and developed through research supported by federal grants, our tax dollars. Our society’s response, unless one of our relatives needs the drug, may be to purchase stock in the company. People die every day because they cannot afford the medical care to diagnose their problem or afford the drugs that might save them. I do agree with whoever wrote Colossians 3:5 greed is idolatry.

Prayer: Lord, forgive us of our idolatry and redeem us to be keepers of your justice. Amen.

*Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, 1 Thessalonians, Galatians, Philippians, and Philemon
**Ephesians, Colossians, and 2 Thessalonians
***1 and 2 Timothy and Titus

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All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized 
Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council 
of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights 
reserved.