Friday, November 15, 2013

Justice Or Justification

The Bible talks about justice and justification. As we seek to follow Christ what should we choose?

Justification is the doctrine which explains how people are made righteous in the sight of God. In Ephesians 2:8  we are told, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." We experience salvation or justification when we place our faith in Jesus Christ and what He did for us on the cross. 2 Corinthians 5:21  "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

The Hebrew word for justice is "Mishpat." According to Tim Keller: "mishpat means more than just the punishment of wrongdoing. It also means giving people their rights. Mishpat, then, is giving people what they are due, whether punishment or protection or care. This is why, if you look at every place the word is used in the Old Testament, several classes of persons continually come up. Over and over again, mishpat describes taking up the care and cause of widows, orphans, immigrants and the poor—those who have been called “the quartet of the vulnerable.”

Paul Louis Metzger says, "Biblical justice involves making individuals, communities, and the cosmos whole, by upholding both goodness and impartiality." 

Churches throughout the US seem to champion either justice or justification.  One group says that what is really important is the salvation of souls and focuses on evangelism. The other side points to the hands on ministry of Jesus as he healed the sick and fed the hungry. This group proclaims that following Jesus is about pursuing justice for the marginalized.

The problem is that neither of these polemic positions are centered in the Christ of the Bible or the gospel.  Jesus didn't choose between justice or justification.  When we do, the gospel we promote is like this pool in the video.  It looks good on the surface but falls far short of its intended purpose. 

And is better! The first place we see the word "gospel" in the New Testament is in Matthew 4:23-25. "Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.”  Jesus came declaring that the reign of God has come into our world.  Sin had marred our relationship with God, one another, ourselves and all of the created order. Jesus came to defeat all that sin had affected. The second half of 1John 3:8 declares, "The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil."  Justice or justification? And is better.  What if Jesus just healed people of the physical diseases and hunger but did nothing about forgiveness of sin?  What if He forgave sin but didn't reconcile all things? And truly is better.  
When Jesus sent His disciples out  He said to them, "And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:7-8)  Later He would tell them to "Go and make disciples (someone who is like their teacher) of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."  (Matthew 28:19-20) Jesus didn't have a false dichotomy, neither should we. And is better.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Desiring God

The central premise of Desiring God is that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.  This is what John Piper calls Christian Hedonism. Piper argues that Christians should not just seek their Joy in God but they are commanded to do so.
            Piper shares his own personal story about how he came to understand God as both the “all satisfying object” and the source of complete joy.  “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).  
            Through this journey the reader is presented with the philosophy and most importantly the scriptural evidence for Christian Hedonism. Like most of Piper’s writing this is a well written book that has an appeal to the biblical scholar. Piper is thorough in his arguments and shows how Christian Hedonism plays out in all areas of life. Overall this is an excellent read and a great book for anyone to understand the roots of sin and idolatry.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

She is Someone's Daughter

  Social media is buzzing about Miley Cyrus and her latest performance. Oddly enough, even in our over sexualized society  the majority of people seemed disturbed. While I agree with the concerns for the children watching and the continued harm about how women are portrayed, I still have to ask; isn’t this what MTV has been doing for years? What makes this unique? Brant Hansen offers some insight. “The problem, this time, is that our society feels like it knows her, knows her backstory, knows she's someone's daughter, and isn't able to forget it. Other women, like the ones on stage with Miley, the ones no one is complaining about? Well, we can sexualize them, reduce them to toys lacking a story, but this girl? We know her dad!”
Joseph Stalin is credited with saying, “A Single Death is a Tragedy; a Million Deaths is a Statistic.” It’s true. How do we view the death of a single person? Well, as a person. They have a name, a face, and a story. The rest are the nameless and faceless multitudes. We forget that each has been created in the image and likeness of their Creator.  Each has desires, dreams and hopes for the future. Each has a God given desire to know others and to be known.
            Miley is a tragedy because we view her as a person. We hurt for her family. We know her God given potential. Other young women are the nameless and often faceless girls. We view them as less than human. They are not our sisters, mothers, or dear friends. They are objects for our pleasure. Something’s wrong and it isn’t just Miley’s dance moves. We are losing the value of personhood. The Bible tells us how to view one another. “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.”-1 Timothy 5:1-2 As God's people let's view each other as God would want us.