Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Thought for Tuesday 25 November 2014

“I hate, I despise your feast days, and I do not savor your sacred assemblies.  Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings.  Take away from Me the noise of your songs, for I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.  But let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”  Amos 5:21-24 NKJV

Religious practices, even those prescribed by the Torah, have no meaning for the worshiping community if justice and righteousness are not part of that community’s DNA.  Much like our practice of participating in Holy Communion with no regard or sorrow for our sins or offering our children to the Covenant by baptism with no resolve to raise our children in the Church, religious practices – even our prayers – lose their impact if we are only going through the motions.  We Christians love to talk about the righteousness of Christ imparted to us by grace, but even that principle is lost if we have no interest in righteousness on our part; acts of justice and deeds of mercy.

I listened to the MO prosecutor’s statement last night before he announced that the grand jury failed to return any indictments against Darren Wilson.  The grand jury’s findings held that eye witness testimony, much of it inconsistent, could not be corroborated with the physical evidence.  However, the grand jury did not find Michael Brown guilty of anything nor did it find Officer Wilson innocent of anything.  The grand jury simply held that there was not sufficient evidence for the matter to be taken to trial.

Still, we have taken sides.  Some believe justice prevailed; others have convinced themselves justice has been denied.  In the human mind (and depending on how heavily invested we are in a particular situation), justice is entirely subjective once we convince ourselves that a wrong committed against us must be made right. 

Yet The Lord’s indictment against His own people, according to the prophet, held (and still holds) that until we actively work for the sake of justice, our gifts and our songs of praise and our worship will fall on “deaf” ears.  Even speaking of the Day of the Lord when Divine Judgment will be rendered, the “faithfully religious” should not consider that Day to be one of rejoicing: “It will be as though a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him!  Or as though he went into the house, leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him” (vs 19).

Regardless of how we may feel about what has happened in Ferguson MO, we are compelled by the Word of The Lord to actively seek justice; and the only way to do this is to actively engage our communities.  We cannot pretend all is well when we can clearly see this is not so.  We may have convinced ourselves that all is well in our own “house” … until the “serpent bites us”!

It is never about “me” or “mine”.  The Lord called Israel to something greater than individualism – and so did Jesus.  It is time for us to make our religious practices meaningful again before we can expect or even hope for genuine revival.  It is time for us to open our eyes to the cultural realities we face – and face them together as the community of faith.  Then The Lord will be pleased.  Then The Lord will be glorified.



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