Friday, June 12, 2009

Remember why I care about this stuff??

When I have questions about the bible, about if something is cultural or if something is a universal application, one of the things I do is look for themes in scripture. I look at the way Jesus lived his life and if there are consistencies over the entire story... God's heart for justice and respect for women and love for people is one of those enduring themes. It would be beneficial for us to recognize these things... here are 5 themes...

1) God is a God of Justice who hates injustice
Ps 11:7—for the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face
Is 61:8—For I the Lord love justice, I hate robbery and inequity.
Deut 32:4—He is the rock, His works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.
Ps 106:3—Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right.

2) God gives Dignity to all human life
Gen 1:27— So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them
Gal 3:26-28—You are all sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

3) Jesus Christ came to redeem and restore the whole person, body, mind, and spirit
Matt 20:29-34-- As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!" The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!" Jesus stopped and called them. "What do you want me to do for you?" he asked. "Lord," they answered, "we want our sight." Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.
John 8:1-11—But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" "No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."
Luke 15: 1-7-- Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." Then Jesus told them this parable: "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

4) Concern and care for the poor and marginalized is commanded by Jesus and modeled by His life
Luke 4:18—The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,

Isaiah 61:1-4-The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve in Zion-- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.

5) At the heart of Christ’s earthly message was hope for new life for every man, woman, boy and girl
2 Cor 5:17—Therefore, if anyone is in Christ they are a new creation. Behold the old is gone, the new has come.

Last night we learned about some grave atrocities in our world. Some of this was be news to you, some was not. You were most likely be stirred to anger and shock at how terrible the plight is of victims of exploitation and how much our world promotes the demand for corruption and continued violence and oppression.

At the same time, we just looked God’s heart and considered a how Jesus brought hope, compassion and restoration for the oppressed, the marginalized, the poor. So, what does this mean for us? How do we make sense of this? Here is my attempt to try:

We are God’s plan to bring restoration to this world. God created us in his image, to pursue justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with him.

Our Lord designed us to participate with him in redemption and restoration.

If we are following Jesus then we have a model of how he lived his life. A life of justice, A life of restoration, A radical life of love. Jesus said, You are the light of the world, a city on a hill cannot be hidden. Shine your light before men, they will see your good deeds and praise my father in heaven. Matt 5
Maybe we are asking the wrong question... maybe the question is, what does participation in restoration and redemption look like in your life?

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