Thursday, May 13, 2021

Pulpit Preview May 16, 2021

Let's turn our thoughts to Ascension Day. We hope you can join us on Facebook Live at Messiah Houston, 9:00am Central Time.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Jesus and Justice

In "The West Wing" episode entitled "In God We Trust" President Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen) and presidential candidate Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda) converse over some tubs of ice cream.

In his run for office, Vinivk has run into a problem. He doesn't go to church.

He and Bartlet talk about the issue and Vinick explains that the more he read the Bible, the harder it was to believe in what it taught, especially regarding the strict penalties for such things as working on the Sabbath or adultery.

He then points out that the Bible is silent on the issue of slavery and that Lincoln could have used some Scriptural support during that social justice struggle.

Well, to be honest, the words "social justice" aren't in the script, but they would be if that episode were written today instead of sixteen years ago.

The truth is that the Bible does not directly address issues of social justice such as slavery or racism.

Jesus Himself was no social justice warrior in the modern sense of the term. He didn't host rallies. He didn't organize protests. He didn't advocate civil unrest.

Does that mean that Jesus didn't care about social issues? Did Jesus approve of slavery? Was He unconcerned about the plight of the poor and disenfranchised? By no means!

Jesus, however, chose a different path to address those concerns.

He taught a very simple truth: Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39).

His words get to the core of social justice concerns.

If I love my neighbor, how can I own him as a slave?

If I love my neighbor, how can I cheat her or mistreat him?

If I love my neighbors, how can I discriminate against them?

The principle of "love for neighbor" makes those things unthinkable.

Jesus' words were actually drawn from Leviticus 19:8, which reads, "Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself."

Do not bear a grudge, but love your neighbor.

I don't see a lot of that in today's social justice movement. I don't see a lot of love.

I, instead, see a lot of grudges, a lot of anger, a lot of rage, and, dare I say it, a lot of hatred.

Jesus's words about love present a challenge to today's social justice movement just as they challenge those guilty of perpetrating injustice.

Rather than trying to overturn the social order of His day, Jesus set forth a manner of life that would provide a platform for social change generation after generation, because each generation will face its own set of social ills.

There will always be injustice in this fallen, broken realm. Racism, poverty, discrimination, and the like will always be with us this side of eternity.

Lasting social justice and reform, however, is not accomplished by enacting laws or cancelling culture.

Rather, it comes when people on all sides of the issues are taught to love one another, to love their neighbors as themselves.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Monday, April 12, 2021