Christian Fellowship Church's Sermons
Justice and the Gospel
February 24, 2019
In the mid-1990’s I attended an international conference in England that had gathered leaders from across the world. The keynote address was given by a pastor from England who was leading a church in S. Africa. What he said was revolutionary to the listeners. This is what he said: God cares for the poor. Why was that radical and revolutionary? Because churches like ours had been pursuing a pure Gospel. We wanted to uphold a converting Christian message, not a social Gospel message. Churches like ours were not interested in social issues because our perception was that liberal-minded churches were doing a social gospel and they had lost the purity of the proclamation of the true gospel. But then these international apostles and prophets said: No, it’s in the Bible. Caring for the poor is everywhere in both in the Old and New Testament. God’s heart is for the poor, the least, the overlooked.
In that period, a flood of ministry to the homeless and hungry developed across the U.S. and around the world. After the fad part of handing out sandwiches and socks to street people had peaked, you were left with those who said: This is not a fad. This is a key part of living out the Gospel.
And I can’t help but wonder if we are not on the verge of another revolutionary insight into the Gospel, and that is the idea of pursuing a just society – a just world.
We just finished a 3-part series on prayer, worship, and faith as warfare. I kept bumping into one verse again and again – It was Micah 6:8. Now I think we get: ‘to love kindness’ (or mercy) And I think we get: ‘to walk humbly with your God’ But do we get: to do justly? To do justice?
Is it possible that doing justice is just as much a part of the Gospel as caring for the poor? Is there a bigger, bird’s-eye view of the Gospel than just our personal spiritual development and progress? I think the answer is: Yes.
Note, we are not talking about abandoning a Gospel by faith alone, in Christ alone, by grace alone. But we are talking about a gospel that says: We are partakers of the Divine nature. Jesus’ public inauguration was about him lifting the heavy load of the brokenhearted, the captives, the oppressed.
The biblical word just, justice, justification is a powerful and hugely significant piece of the eternal Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a movement of God toward us in spite of us turning our backs on Him. And we are to do the same toward others.
This justice is not the usual tit-for-tat of crime and punishment. It is not a righteousness by the law; it is a righteousness or justice of fairness in the purest sense of the word. It is a justice that comes from the righteousness of God - a making things right.
We are not just seeking social justice; we are seeking Biblical justice. Justice for the defenseless is God’s own work – His justice.
It is about the care given by the community to its weakest members and even to those who are not its members in any way. We are to mirror what the Kingdom of God would act like.
Compassion means to suffer with. And the biblical picture of justice is more than individual justice; it is a societal justice; a global justice; a cosmic justice – (Peter) we look for his promise of a new heaven and a new earth wherein righteousness dwells.
‘The Dangerous Act of Worship – Living God’s call to justice’
This kind of worship is an act of God’s hope in the world. It is a seeding and cultivating of hope wherever hope is lacking.
When you get a global picture of this it can be so overwhelming. But we must know the end game of God’s kingdom is the entire and ultimate transformation of everyone and everything. The Kingdom of God is a cosmic overhaul. No one is to be overlooked. And God has enlisted us into that end – this is how we reflect the glory of God.
The Kingdom of God is bigger than politics. So we need this justice acted out in every political party. We need Christians in every political party.
Here are the challenges I face as I give consideration to this:
- To care vs. I don’t care
- To act vs. I don’t know what to do
- To gain awareness vs. living in a cocoon of isolation
- To grow in compassion vs. to grow in a hardening of heart
- To sacrifice vs. to seek my comfort
May God’s word and His Spirit guide our hearts in the justice of God
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