I Didn't Know Justice Mattered That Much!

Micah 6:8

8 He has told you, O man, what is good;

and what does the Lord require of you

but to do justice, and to love kindness,

and to walk humbly with your God?

 

Speak

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Intro

We are in a new series because we fully embrace the fact that we have four diverse and different voicestelling the gospel story. This is truly unique about the heart of the Christian message, that the message itself embodies the message. The message that all are welcome, is itself said in four different voices.

So we have a team of preachers. And to be open to different voice means to be open to different ways of preaching. So we got together and said, how should we prepare for the next series.

And Gerald told us about how in his tradition, the preacher selects every Sunday.

So we agreed. And I though this should be easier. But it isn’t. I really like having a series planned out. But there is a real leaning on the Spirit that happens with this type of preaching.

So I prayed, listened, and prayed and listened and nothing! So do I go up and say I got nothing from the Lord and have nothing to give.

But that wouldn’t work. So I prayed and listened. And I remembered what an old mentor of mine taught me. Sometimes the voice of God is the thought that occupies you.

The best way to hear what the Spirit is saying to us is for me to hear what the Spirit is saying to me.

And the thought that has been occupying me was this, “Man I did not know Justice mattered that much to God!” I really didn’t until I read through the book of Matthew together with you.

I always knew Justice was something dear to God. I just never new how dear Justice was to God, that infact justice is essential to the gospel of Christ.

That makes a difference, between importance and essential. When you are fixing something, and there is a part that might be important but not essential, that you can jettison. Like pasta. You can add garlic, I think that’s important. Like shrimp, I think that’s important, but not essential. But if you don’t have the sauce, you don’t have pasta. Pasts requires noodles and sauce.

Justice is not just something important to have. Without it, you don’t have the gospel. Without justice you don’t have a church. You can’t just have justice. You have to have worship. Justice alone doesn’t make a church. Church is not just a social service. But Church is not just worship. Church is both.

This is important because if justice is essential and I’m not doing it, than I might find myself in the wrong side of judgment. This is scary. We better be sure about this.

I got this only as I was reading through Matthew 24, that scary passage where Jesus is letting it fly on the Pharisees. Remember that?

Matthew 24:23-24

23“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens,#23:23 Greek tithe the mint, the dill, and the cumin. but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. 24Blind guides! You strain your water so you won’t accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel!

First, I want to point out Jesus says tithe. From our leadership retreat one leader said pastor, why don’t you talk about tithing! So here I am, you see Jesus says tithe. Actually this is important. For us to work together. But that is not the point of the sermon.

I don’t want to be a swallower of camels.

Because the Pharisees had everything a good religious person needs to have. Yet, Jesus says you are missing one thing, and its crucial and because you don’t have it, you are more a child of hell than the pagans you try to convert.

Remember the Great Commission?

The obey all my commandments is what Jesus taught as recorded by Matthew and specifically the sermon on the mount.

Matthew 5:3-12

3“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,#5:3 Greek poor in spirit.

for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

4God blesses those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

5God blesses those who are humble,

for they will inherit the whole earth.

6God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,#5:6 Or for righteousness.

for they will be satisfied.

7God blesses those who are merciful,

for they will be shown mercy.

8God blesses those whose hearts are pure,

for they will see God.

9God blesses those who work for peace,

for they will be called the children of God.

10God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,

for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

11“God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.

 

This is why its important to read a book in its entirety.

Why we don’t get that justice is essential, what is justice, and how to practice justice.

Why we don’t see Justice as Essential.

Jesus shows us why we miss the whole point about justice. Because people don’t like to listen to prophets. People persecute prophets. Because prophets talk about justice. And justice requires, repentance, giving up of power, sacrifice. People like politicians. People hate prophets. People like pastors. People hate prophets.

And so do most modern Christians. As Pharisees hated prophets, so modern Christians hate prophets. This is why most of us don’t read the prophets. We read the gospels, and that selective but we don’t read the prophets, and definitely not its entirety. When is the last time you read the prophet Isaiah? Or prophet Micah? Do you even know what was their main point?

No, we don’t read them because now we have Jesus and Jesus makes all the prophets moot. He is the final prophet. Yes, but that finality is not erasing of the old, but making the prophets clearer.

Jesus says not one iota will disappear.

There are bibles that have just the gospel and the psalms. I know, the reason is function, because it has to be small. But if you ask any of our Christian fathers and mothers, they would say that is crazy. This is why they kept the Old Testament. In fact, for the first 100 years, when they said scripture they meant the Old Testament. The Old Testament and the oral stories of the apostles was enough to know who Jesus is.

Also, Jesus was a prophet. If you want to understand Jesus, you have to hear the prophet. If you don’t hear the prophet, than what you going to do is make Jesus whoever you want him to be because he is no longer rooted in a tradition.

In one sense you have to see Jesus through the prophets, not the prophets through Jesus. If you start with Jesus than you use your own ideas. If you start with the prophets, then you start with the tradition Jesus preaches from.

It’s like a telescope. There are two lenses. Smaller and the bigger one, eyepiece and the objective lens. The smaller one is first, the larger one is the final one. You need both. The light comes through the big than the small, but you see through the small than the big. You reverse the order and everything is miniaturized. If you want to see farther, the order of the lens is important.

So you read Matthew 24, he is echoing the prophets. It is his language.

So let me read you Micah. And the main points of the message will come from that famous verse 6:8.

Micah 6:8

8 He has told you, O man, what is good;

and what does the Lord require of you

but to do justice, and to love kindness,

and to walk humbly with your God?

 

But I want us to read it in its context.

God is bringing a lawsuit against his people. What lawsuit? God’s people has broken the covenant. The Sinai covenant, to Mosaic covenant, the covenant that created Israel.

 

Micah 6:1-8

1 Hear what the Lord says:

Arise, plead your case before the mountains,

and let the hills hear your voice.

2 Hear, you mountains, the indictment of the Lord,

and you enduring foundations of the earth,

for the Lord has an indictment against his people,

and he will contend with Israel.

3 "O my people, what have I done to you?

How have I wearied you? Answer me!

4 For I brought you up from the land of Egypt

and redeemed you from the house of slavery,

and I sent before you Moses,

Aaron, and Miriam.

5 O my people, remember what Balak king of Moab devised,

and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him,

and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal,

that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord."

What Does theLordRequire?

6 "With what shall I come before the Lord,

and bow myself before God on high?

Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,

with calves a year old?

7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,

with ten thousands of rivers of oil?

Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,

the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?"

8 He has told you, O man, what is good;

and what does the Lord require of you

but to do justice, and to love kindness,

and to walk humbly with your God?

 

What is the main thing?

Well here it is. Guess who’s saying it? God. God is telling us about what’s most important about following God? Prophet Micah is relaying that.

 

Kids Justice League of Nations

 

Honestly, doesn’t this make the Christian life more exciting for the very fact that it is so challenging. But also because life here matters!

Elina once asked –

Eternal Life

I don’t want to live forever.

So now a days I tell them you were born to do justice!

 

-So I say to me kids you are alive to do the Justice of God.

-So we are like Justice league

-Yeah!
-Then I need superpowers

-You’ve got God, prayer, love

-That’s too weak, I mean like Flash or Superman or like Batman.

-Batman doesn’t have superpower.

-Then how does he fight Superman

-Superhero powers have to make things work

 

What is Justice

Recognition of the divine image of God in the other person. The inalienable value of a person. We have this notion in the term justice is blind. It supposed to signify that justice won’t judge you by how you look, but will be impartial. Impartiality doesn’t mean apathy. We think to be impartial means you must not care for the outcome and look at the facts alone. No. It means look at the person, really look at the person, really see the value of the person, that make judgment that will restore the value of the person.

Justice means you affirm the image of God in the person. Injustice is the denial of the image of God in the other person.

So someone who kills another person out of hatred, because he is gay, or black, or a republican senator. You are denying the image of God.

And then to let the killer get away is itself injustice.

Now justice doesn’t want to deny the divine image of even the person who commits injustice. Justice wants to bring about repentance to the wrong doer, first because it recognizes that even in sin the divine image is marred but not erased. And it wishes for the wrongdoer to see that divine image in itself.

So justice. Not retribution or revenge. Justice restores everyone.

Neuroscience of Restorative Justice
Dr. Daniel Reisel shows how the process of reconciliation – victim and perpetrator meeting together and working through the crime and hurt –changes the amygdala of the human brain.

 

How to do Justice?

Justice Requires Mercy

Mercy and Walking with God. They are not secondary to Justice. They are primary with Justice. They are related but not the same. And it’s their equity with Justice, which makes them important to Justice.

This is why Justice requires mercy. Justice is not about everyone getting what they deserve. It’s actually everyone treated as people loved by God. And what mercy does is to help us see the image of God in others.

The word mercy is an interesting one.

One aspect of love mercy rechem is to have compassion and mercy. It can mean protection from harm, womb being a safe place. I think it also means recognizing our common humanity, that we were all born from a womb, born to a mother who loved us or should have loved us. No matter how we might judge each other, that essence of us, we were all children, helpless and with hope for good, and in that sense we all retain that helpless and hope for good.

You can’t stay angry at babies too long. Because they look so cute. Because their head is twice the size of their small body, because they are so fragile.

Can you imagine any baby doing evil? Do you think a caretaker could look at a row of babies and pick out Hitler?

There is divine image in us. Loving mercy is helping us see what is difficult to see. It is a call to choose mercy because we will judge.

This is why sometimes, when my wife and I get into a fight, I send baby pics of myself. Then we are all good.

You can’t do justice without mercy because mercy keeps our justice from become vengeance. Justice is not about getting what one deserves. Justice is about everyone’s value being recognized.

 

Worship

Our works of justice cannot be sustained without worship.

For worship is the place where we clearly see the image of God. It is a place where we see who God is, than our sinfulness and yet our belovedness to God.

And this truly equips us for the journey of justice. Because it is a hard road.

Dorothy Day quote:

Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, wrote, “We believe that spiritual action is the hardest of all — o praise and worship God, to thank Him, to petition Him for our brothers, to repent of our sins and those of others. This is action, just as the taking of cities is action, as revolution is action, as the Corporal Works of Mercy are action. And just to lie in the sun and let God work on you is to be sitting in the light of the Sun of Justice, and the growth will be there, and joy will grow and spread from us to others. That is why I like to use so often that saying of St. Catherine of Siena: ‘All the Way to heaven is Heaven, because He said I am the Way.’ ”

 

Do Justice in your sphere of influence.

We can do Justice in the sphere of influence. Where you are. Injustices happen.

Currently, in the Natural Museum they are running a exhibition on racism. They tell one story of a Washington Post editor who got a new job and put his house on the market.

 

Drew Faust is a girl born into a mother who told her, “this is a man’s world, the faster you realize that, the less pain you will suffer.”

So from an early age they were given freedoms and permissions that I wasn’t. I was required to do things like wear little lacy garments that I found objectionable. My first pursuit of equality was for myself in the family. I’d do things like refuse to come to dinner because I was told I had to wear a dress or I couldn’t come in from the barn where I was taking care of my steer and not change before dinner. So I’d throw fits about that kind of stuff.

 

But early on the disparity between what I was being taught in school and in church — about the American Dream and about humane justice and Christianity — seemed so at odds with the position of supporting segregation that was taken for granted in the white community.

I began chafing against that and wrote a letter to Eisenhower when I was nine years old urging him to support integration.

 

She wrote this in February 1957.

It’s in the Congress National Archives in the early 2000s.

 

DEAR MR. EISENHOWER,

 I AM NINE YEARS OLD AND I AM WHITE BUT I HAVE MANY FEELINGS ABOUT

SEGREGATION. WHY SHOULD PEOPLE FEEL THAT WAY BECAUSE THE COLOR OF THE SKIN? IF I

PAINTED MY FACE BLACK I WOULDN’T BE LET IN ANY PUBLIC SCHOOLS etc. MY FEELINGS HAVEN’T

CHANGED, JUST THE COLOR OF MY SKIN.

 LONG AGO ON CHRISTMAS DAY JESUS CHRIST WAS BORN. AS YOU REMEMBER HE

WAS BORN TO SAVE THE WORLD. NOT ONLY WHITE PEOPLE BUT BLACK YELLOW RED AND BROwn.

 COLORED PEOPLE AREN’T GIVEN A CHANCE. “THEY DONT HAVE A GOOD

EDUCATION,” SaYS MANY PEOPLE. Is It their fault if THEIR FATHERS ARE SO POOR THEY Must be

taken out at an early age TO FIND JOBS? ONLY ABOUT 2% of our prep SCHOOLS are for colored

people.

 SO WHAT IF THEIR SKIN IS BLACK? THEY STILL HAVE FEELINGS BUT MOST OF ALL

ARE GOD’S PEOPLE!

 PLEASE MR EISENHOWER, PLEASE TRY AND HAVE SCHOOLS and other THiNGS

accEPT COLORED PEOPLE

 

Today, Drew Faust is the president of Harvard University

 

 

Readings

 

Matthew 5:3-12

3“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,#5:3 Greek poor in spirit.

for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

4God blesses those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

5God blesses those who are humble,

for they will inherit the whole earth.

6God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,#5:6 Or for righteousness.

for they will be satisfied.

7God blesses those who are merciful,

for they will be shown mercy.

8God blesses those whose hearts are pure,

for they will see God.

9God blesses those who work for peace,

for they will be called the children of God.

10God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,

for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

11“God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.

 

 

Micah 6:8

8 He has told you, O man, what is good;

and what does the Lord require of you

but to do justice, and to love kindness,

and to walk humbly with your God?

 

Micah 6:1-8

1 Hear what the Lord says:

Arise, plead your case before the mountains,

and let the hills hear your voice.

2 Hear, you mountains, the indictment of the Lord,

and you enduring foundations of the earth,

for the Lord has an indictment against his people,

and he will contend with Israel.

3 "O my people, what have I done to you?

How have I wearied you? Answer me!

4 For I brought you up from the land of Egypt

and redeemed you from the house of slavery,

and I sent before you Moses,

Aaron, and Miriam.

5 O my people, remember what Balak king of Moab devised,

and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him,

and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal,

that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord."

What Does theLordRequire?

6 "With what shall I come before the Lord,

and bow myself before God on high?

Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,

with calves a year old?

7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,

with ten thousands of rivers of oil?

Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,

the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?"

8 He has told you, O man, what is good;

and what does the Lord require of you

but to do justice, and to love kindness,

and to walk humbly with your God?

 

 

Neuroscience of Restorative Justice
Dr. Daniel Reisel shows how the process of reconciliation – victim and perpetrator meeting together and working through the crime and hurt –changes the amygdala of the human brain.

She wrote this in February 1957.

It’s in the Congress National Archives in the early 2000s.

 

DEAR MR. EISENHOWER,

 I AM NINE YEARS OLD AND I AM WHITE BUT I HAVE MANY FEELINGS ABOUT

SEGREGATION. WHY SHOULD PEOPLE FEEL THAT WAY BECAUSE THE COLOR OF THE SKIN? IF I

PAINTED MY FACE BLACK I WOULDN’T BE LET IN ANY PUBLIC SCHOOLS etc. MY FEELINGS HAVEN’T

CHANGED, JUST THE COLOR OF MY SKIN.

 LONG AGO ON CHRISTMAS DAY JESUS CHRIST WAS BORN. AS YOU REMEMBER HE

WAS BORN TO SAVE THE WORLD. NOT ONLY WHITE PEOPLE BUT BLACK YELLOW RED AND BROwn.

 COLORED PEOPLE AREN’T GIVEN A CHANCE. “THEY DONT HAVE A GOOD

EDUCATION,” SaYS MANY PEOPLE. Is It their fault if THEIR FATHERS ARE SO POOR THEY Must be

taken out at an early age TO FIND JOBS? ONLY ABOUT 2% of our prep SCHOOLS are for colored

people.

 SO WHAT IF THEIR SKIN IS BLACK? THEY STILL HAVE FEELINGS BUT MOST OF ALL

ARE GOD’S PEOPLE!

 PLEASE MR EISENHOWER, PLEASE TRY AND HAVE SCHOOLS and other THiNGS

accEPT COLORED PEOPLE

 

Today, Drew Faust is the president of Harvard University

 

 

 

 

Unified to Unify

As we conclude our series on Matthew, we consider Jesus' command to take the kingdom principles espoused throughout Matthew's Gospel and share them with others. How do we fulfill this great commission? What does it look like to make disciples as Jesus asks?