Witnessing to God’s love 3
‘With what shall I come before the Lord,
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with tens of thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?’
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
Our appropriate response to the sacrificial love of God is to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with our God. Let us focus for a moment on the idea of justice. In the book of Isaiah the promise is made of a future king who will seek justice.
…then a throne shall be established in steadfast love in the tent of David, and on it shall sit in faithfulness a ruler who seeks justice and is swift to do what is right. (Is16:5)
The desire in the human heart for justice has always been there but is being expressed particularly forcefully in recent days. We see it in widespread concerns for women sexually harassed in their place of work; for black men killed by police in American streets; for children abused in religious institutions; for those held in modern day slavery and so much more. We want the truth to come out and for those in power to be held to account for what they have done. This is a good thing. To seek justice and ensure that wrongdoers are answerable for their deeds is precisely what God would have us do. It flows from the very being of God.
In the face of widespread corruption in courts, the bribing of officials and the uncanny ability of the powerful to bend justice to their own ends, the only confidence of those who are weak, the exploited and the abused is that the Judge of all the earth will do what is right. He will bring truth to light and such action will be cause for great joy across the world.
..let the field exult, and everything in it.
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the Lord; for he is coming,
for he is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with his truth. (Ps 96:12,13)
The gospel affirms that God brings truth to light and holds wrongdoers accountable for all they have done. Dark deeds will not simply be swept under the carpet. God calls us to respond to him, not with the trappings of religion (burnt offerings and calves a year old) but humbly, with kindness and a desire for justice.
Holy and all-seeing God,
hear the cries of those who are abused and exploited,
Judge their cause with righteousness.
Bring down the arrogant
And lift up the humble and the weak.
May the wickedness that is done in dark places
Be exposed by your penetrating light.
But I also pray that you would be merciful to me
For I have been an abuser and exploiter of others.
Forgive me for I have been arrogant
And done so much that is wrong.
For my hidden and my open sins
I look to your boundless grace.