Sunday, August 13, 2023

Sermon Starters: Funky Justice

August 13, 2023
College Wesleyan Church

Text: Micah 6:1-8

Harry Potter, Order of the Phoenix-- Bad guys come after Harry. He uses his wand. He gets notice he is being expelled. His uncle exclaims, "Justice."

We cannot help but insert our assumptions into the text. We have these "dictionaries" in our heads. We cannot help but use them. Study helps refine them. The Spirit works with them.

The word justice is one of those instances where we have certain ideas about what it means and what it is. But if we listen to the Old Testament, it pushes us to refine our understanding a bit.

1. Justice is something you do.
  • It's not blogging, for us introverts. It's about getting out there.
  • "O man" -- It is both individual and corporate. Biblical language typically has a corporate emphasis, but it is also an accumulation of what we do as individuals.
  • I appreciate that CWC does justice. Invitation to prey on my guilt.
  • Illustration: Thinking about getting a metal chicken versus getting one
2. Justice has two sides.
  • Yes, there is justice for the offender. Micah 2 -- The heads of Israel seize land and houses they want. They have the power to do what they want.
  • Punish, yes. But more importantly, stop them.
  • Injustice is hurting people, not breaking rules. Cultures make up so many rules -- no elbows on the table. Don't end a sentence with a preposition. Even the sin of serving other gods involved hurting other people (e.g., child sacrifice).
  • Biblical justice seems even more concerned with those who are oppressed than with the oppressor. This is common failing--thinking more about the abuser than the victim.
  • Restoring those off-track--widows, orphans, the poor, the stranger
  • "Judge with true justice and mercy and compassion. Let each do to his brother and do not oppress widow and orphan and alien and poor. Do not plan evil in your hearts each against his brother" (Zech. 7:9-10).
  • Notice the related terms that pop up both in Micah and Zechariah--hesed, compassion. Hesed is hard to translate--lovingkindness, faithfulness, sticking with someone until they are rescued
  • This was the heart of Jesus' ministry as well. In the Gospels, he spends very little of his time getting people saved spiritually. Instead, he heals, casts out demons, and restores the "lost sheep" (Luke 15). 
3. Sacrifice is easy.
  • Like buying flowers on your anniversary
  • Rules are easy.
  • Rituals are easy.
  • I grew up with an anti-Catholic vibe. Kind of made fun of "vain repetitions." But have our own.
  • Micah -- the heads and priests thought, just some more sacrifices
  • Take more insulin before going on a drinking binge
4. This is the Year of the Lord's Favor
  • Jesus's inaugural address in Luke 4 ends with "proclaim year of Lord's favor"
  • Doesn't always feel like it, but then again, Luke was written after Jerusalem had been destroyed, after elite Jews had been marched through the streets of Rome and put to death. My worst day is better than that!
  • My wife has a saying, "It's a great, great day if you make it that way." Or to put it biblically, "This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."
  • The Beatitudes -- we are blessed. Sometimes we feel it now, but we will certainly feel it then.

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