Monday, April 19, 2010

Defending the Weak

This is lifted from my daily Bible study - Sunday's lesson from Encounter with God:

You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed... (Psalm 10:17-18)

Bishop Desmond Tutu of  South Africa
I believe the view of Scripture is that the economic poor are generally victims...the God who does see and care is the same God who urges his people to pursue justice for the poor. This is a critical part of our mandate as God's people, a vital element in our job description as disciples of Christ, one of the good works for which we have been created. (Encounter with God, 4/18/2010, Scripture Union)

The theme corresponds to a prayer I wrote in 2007. The statistics I cited are pre-recession numbers; I doubt they have improved.

I filed my taxes last week, and I sincerely felt I had done my part.

I read last week that the United Way had actually counted 1,806 homeless people in our community, but still, I had done my part.

I was confronted by the 82nd Psalm in a devotion. It’s entitled A Plea for Justice: Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy…
(Psalm 82:3-4)

I’m thinking I have more to do. If 1.1 million people in our state are at the poverty level…if 1.3 million have no health insurance…if 14% of our households know hunger, I have more to do.

Bishop Tutu speaks in that same disquieting book of devotions: If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.

The 82nd Psalm pointedly asks: How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked?
(Psalm 82:2)

I’m certain that I have not done my part. I have much more to do! Amen.

Monday, April 12, 2010

St. Paul on God's Love

Paul’s Letter to the Romans is characterized as an “elaborate theological essay” by the study notes in my NIV Bible. Not an easy read!

…but it’s our handbook on sin, redemption, salvation, grace, etc. Chapter eight speaks to forgiveness…the power and presence of the Holy Spirit…and Paul’s prose soars in the final two verses:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)


I seek the Spirit-controlled life…the Christ-centered life…the God-focused life...that St. Paul promises us in Romans.

But I’m too much “in the flesh”…not enough “in the Spirit.” There’s a strong resemblance to Adam. No one would mistake me for Jesus.

So, I thank you for the incredible promises we find in Romans, Chapter Eight.

The Apostle’s very first line:
…there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. No condemnation. No judgment. Thank you, Father.

And Paul’s last verse:
…nothing can separate us from the love of God that is Jesus Christ our Lord. Not death. Not evil. Nothing in all creation. Thank you, Father. Amen.

A Spirit-filled sunset on Currituck Sound, Duck NC

Portrait of St. Paul by Rembrandt, 1635