Jeremiah 23: 23-29
Hebrews 11:29 - 12:2
Luke 12:49 - 56
“How long will you judge unjustly
and show partiality to the wicked?
Give justice to the weak and the orphan;
maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
They have neither knowledge nor understanding,
they walk around in darkness;
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.”
- Psalm 82: 2 – 5
Are you working for justice, or ignoring injustice ?
From wherever we started out in life- white or colored, poor or rich, bright or dull, queer or straight, citizen or alien, well-raised or wild, sick or healthy, etc. – we each experience judgment and learn to evaluate what is fair or unfair.
Moses and the other prophets placed strong emphasis on justice for lowly, disadvantaged people. The classic wording is “the widow, the fatherless, and the stranger” : for example, Deuteronomy 27:19: “Cursed be he that perverteth the judgment of the stranger, fatherless, and widow. And all the people shall say, Amen.” (see also Psalm 94:3-7, Jeremiah 22:3, Zechariah 7:10, Malachi 3:5, and many other places in the Scriptures).
Nowadays, we face many questions concerning “strangers.” People of many different ethnic groups and colors. People coming from many different countries. People from neighborhoods we don’t know or trust. “They’re not like us.”
Depending on the degree of diversity we each find familiar, we may “not know a stranger” – that is, we may be able to make friends across all kinds of human differences. But, most likely, we get suspicious and uncomfortable when we encounter some types of humans.
Depending on where we started from and where we’ve been, different differences may excite our fears and prejudices.
Consider the current controversies swirling around
“BLACK LIVES MATTER”
“BLUE LIVES MATTER”
If we are more attuned to the fears and historic injustices that can befall law-enforcement folks, we tend toward the “blue.” But if we are more attuned to the fears and historic injustices that can befall people of color, we tend toward the “black.”
Of course, in the real world, everyone experiences some injustice: “Life isn’t fair.” However, God knows it is worse for the lowly, the disadvantaged.
If we have the “right” color skin and the “right” upbringing and the “right” connections and the “right” money available… we get to declare ourselves to be “right.” But God sees the vast majority of humanity who have drawn the other cards. And we know that God judges the heart, not the external appearances and accessories. When we who imagine ourselves to be “right” point the finger of judgment, we may commit injustice similar to that which condemned Jesus.
Jesus challenges us to judge wisely the times in which we find ourselves – but not to judge the people. It is too easy to delude ourselves to think that we are always the good guys. As one 20th-century poet put it,
The rich declare themselves poor
And most of us are not sure
If we have too much, but we’ll take our chances
That God’s stopped keeping score.
In the United States now, we are keeping more than 2,200,000 adults in prisons and jails— a major portion of them suffering under mental disorders, poor legal representation, racial discrimination, and unjust laws.
Uncomfortable with these topics ? Jesus tells us,
“Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth ?
No, I tell you, but rather division !”