I’m sitting here.
listening to this. (Jacaranda)
After her visit to Israel and her time with King Solomon, Sheba, a pagan queen, stated, “Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king to maintain justice and righteousness.”
Sheba saw that the God of Israel is a God of justice and righteousness. She also saw that God had given much to Israel so that they might be his agents of that justice and righteousness.
If you read the prophets, however, you see that Israel did not live up to this calling. Both Isaiah and Amos tell Israel that God hates their religion – he hates the way they “live out” their faith because they ignore the plight of the poor, the needy, the oppressed, and the immigrant.
Within a few generations of Solomon, Israel finds itself under the yoke of slavery in Babylon. Previously freed from Egypt to be people of justice and righteousness they became self absorbed, selfish, and gluttonous. And they toppled over. They reverted back. They forgot who they were and, more importantly, who God is.
And today, in the wealthiest nation in the world, we spend hundreds of billions of dollars ensuring the future of wolves and trillions on war under the mantra of justice and righteousness. It doesn’t alarm me that a nation does things like this. I expect the world to act like the world. What alarms me is when those who follow a God of justice and righteousness use/fight for/support practices that are so counter to God’s Kingdom. What alarms me is when those who have faith in Jesus’ words that “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” refuse to acknowledge that God’s way is better. God uses foolishness to shame the wise. Isn’t he the same God who told us to turn the other cheek? Foolish. Isn’t he the God who told us that to find life we must first lose life? Foolish. Isn’t he the God who says that the greatest among us should be like the youngest? Foolish. Isn’t he the God who said we should find joy in affliction and suffering? Foolish.
It is not OK for followers of Jesus’ way to love a system that says the more you have the better you are. He is our portion. It is not OK for followers of Jesus’ way “trample on the heads of the poor as upon the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed.” Jesus came to give good news to the poor. If we find ourselves so blind to our actions that we ignore injustice may we also find ourselves on our knees under the yoke of someone else begging God to take us back to our roots – to be people of justice and righteousness in a world of selfishness.
if our economy crashes….
if our wars fail….
if our theological divisiveness turns the lost away from your image….
if our gluttony wipes the earth of it’s fruit….
if our bad stewardships taints the beauty of your creation….
if we forget to love…
may we still, in our inevitable brokenness say,
“Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
It is not enough for the priests and ministers of the future to be moral people, well trained, eager to help their fellow humans, and able to respond creatively to the burning issues of their time. All of that is very valuable and important, but it is not the heart of Christian leadership. The central question is, Are the leaders of the future truly men and women of God, people with an ardent desire to dwell in God’s presence, to listen to God’s voice, to look at God’s beauty, to touch God’s incarnate Word, and to taste fully God’s infinite goodness?”