The World We Want to See – this is a series compiled by Scott Higgins alongside Baptist Care relating particularly to justice. Some of the additional resources I have utilised are from the writings of Miroslav Volf; Tim Keller; Nicholas Wolterstorff; and Jurgen Moltmann.
Text: Isaiah 58:1–14 (NLT) ople, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
In 1960, Martin Luther King went to Birmingham, Alabama to lead march protesting the lack of civil rights for African-Americans. His presence was resented by many, including a large number of white church leaders. Dr. King was arrested on trumped up charges and, while languishing in his cell, composed a reply to his critics amongst the white clergy of the day.
His “Letter from an Alabama Jail” (April 16 1963) includes following:
“We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jet-like speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter.
Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait!”
But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim;
When you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters;…
There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair.
Move to Sept 2016 – Charlotte, North Carolina where Keith Scott was killed by law enforcement officers and the ensuing riots and protests. Caught up in this was Greg Jarrell, white pastor and writer who was trying to come to terms with what justice meant and looked like.
Like King before him, Jarrell was reminded that we cannot have a good society without it being a just society, and that the absence of justice erodes the humanity of both the oppressed and the oppressor.
Transition: In this sermon we will explore the biblical framing of justice in the story of Old Testament Israel, beginning with the prophet Isaiah in the text that we read. To whom was Isaiah addressing?
2 Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me…