At War With Injustice, Luke 4:14-21
The story is told of the famed evangelist and preacher, John Wesley, who, one winter day, met a poor girl in one of the schools under his care. She seemed almost frozen. He asked her if she had no clothing but the thin garments she was wearing. She said she had not. His hand was in his pocket in an instant, but there was no money there. He went to his room, but the pictures on it seemed to upbraid him. He took them down, saying to himself: “How can the Master say to thee, 'Well done, good and faithful servant'? Thou hast adorned thy walls with the money which might have screened this poor creature from the bitter cold! O justice! O mercy! Are not these pictures the blood of the poor maid?” So he sold the pictures to get money to relieve the girl's distress.
The central thesis for this message is simply this: “The right response of Christian believers everywhere to the injustice of this life is to war against it.”
God is completely sovereign in what he allows and decrees in the universe, this world, the affairs of men, and the individual circumstances of our lives. This is true. The Scriptures attest to this reality and the circumstances of our lives and what we observe in the world around us reflects it a true.
When we perceive injustice though, the right response is not to be casually resigned to it. So often when believers see the rampant injustice of this world we are tempted into one of three basic categories:
(1) We say that “this will all be fixed when Jesus returns.” This is the “rapture ready” response; I’m just waiting for my ticket out of this place!
(2) We resign ourselves to the notion that “since God is sovereign, all of this must be a part of His plan.” This is what I would call the “spectator mentality.” This may be the worst way to respond to injustice because it makes God the author of evil. God is not the author of evil. He is the author of human freedom and humanity, through the misuse of this freedom, welcomed evil into this world, by abandoning God’s justice.
(3) We say simply, often in honest exasperation, “what can I do? I can’t do anything about it. My favorite: I’ve got my own problems.”
When we examine the life of Christ we find one common theme: God is at war with the vile things of this world; this life. God is at war with sin. In the Old Testament the primary way this is displayed is as He declared His righteousness in judging sin in the lives of men. God’s wrath is a reality in the Scriptures.
In the New Testament we see God likewise judging sin according to the immensity of His love for His creation as He poured out His wrath in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ; as He purchased for us a violent grace; according to the fire of His unquenchable burning white hot love, which consumes all that is at war with it and purifies all that responds to it by welcoming love.
Recently my family and I were traveling north on 251 to visit a local retail store. While we drove we noticed a huge plume of smoke in the air. As it turns out, we were not the only people in town who had gathered to witness the blaze at Crafter’s Village. Upon pulling into a nearby parking lot I pointed out that the flame coming from the peak of the roof was dazzling white; it was plainly incredibly hot. After Sebastian and Ephram watched the firemen for a few moments and they had offered a prayer for their friends Mr. Dean & Mr. Dale, who are both local firemen, we went into the nearby store, which was our original destination. After only 30 minutes in the store, the roof had collapsed and the building was little more than a pile of rubble; barely recognizable.
Fire is a mixed tool of mankind. On the one hand it can purify beautiful things like silver and gold. It can head our homes and light an outdoor gathering with warmth. On the other hand it destroys that which it meets which flammable.
The temperature of flames with carbon particles emitting light can be assessed by their color. Red is just visible at (977 °F); Dull red: (1290 °F); Cherry red, dull: (1470 °F); Cherry full: (1650 °F); Cherry clear: (1830 °F); Deep Orange: (2010 °F); Clear: (2190 °F); Dazzling white fire can burn as hot as: (2730 °F).
God’s love is like a white hot dazzling fire which purifies finer things like gold and silver and burns away impurities. God’s love burns for His creation and it is so intense that anything which is at war with this love becomes mere vapor and smoke; while the purity of likewise acceptance of this love is purified.
God’s love burns so brightly that anything which comes into contact with it which is at war with it – sin, selfish ambition, self exultation, self righteousness; all of the diseases which plague humanity – is consumed.
God is unified. God is complete in and of Himself. He is self existent. His love is inexorably connected to His wrath. His love burns so brightly that His wrath is a part of His love, because His love cannot abide anything which is at war with His holiness and His love consumes all of those things which run counter His love!
God is love and it is for this reason that He cannot abide sin. God is love and it is for this very reason that He is at war with the injustice of this life.
Dear Saints of God, reflected in the life and work of Jesus Christ is the plain reality that God is at war with the brokenness of this world. God is not passively resigned to its existence, biding his celestial time until He ultimate sends Jesus Christ to rectify the situation!
The battle for justice and God’s love is raging all around us if we will but get in the fight! We have already been enlisted, by faith, into the fight. We have been born into a war torn area, spiritual warfare rages all around our lives, in our families, in our communities, in our nation, and our world.
In Matthew 10:38 Jesus says, “anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (NIV) Christianity is a living breathing expression of faith in God according to the mercy and grace found in Jesus Christ. Christian faith is validated to the extent that it is lived out and expressed in our lives.
When the fire of God’s love descends upon a human heart it begins to burn away that which does not belong; that which is not pure; until what remains has been consecrated to the Lord’s will and service.
God is sovereign in human affairs. This is true. He doesn’t need you or I to accomplish His will. And yet, He chooses to use us; He chooses to allow us the divine privilege of participating in His work in this world.
Christianity is not meant to be a “pie in the sky in the sweet by and by” religion. Our life is to be reflective of the life which Jesus lived. How did He live this life?
Luke 4:18-19 summarize the entire purpose for the coming of Jesus Christ, Yeshua Messiah, the Man of Salvation, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.” (NIV)
These words were very challenging to the Jews in the synagogue who heard them. Jesus had implied that salvation was for all and that God even favored Gentiles at times, over the Jews. The people tried to kill him by casting him over a cliff.
Jesus words conflicted with the internal notions of what religion was all about to these people. “The synagogue had lost its relevance to the everyday and was concerned about the cultivation of mind and soul through study and praise. Unfortunately, the synagogue has become the model for all too many Christian churches. We come together to improve ourselves, to learn, to grow, to think. There is nothing wrong with that, but if that is the end product there is something very wrong with it.” (Preacher’s Commentary)
For Christian faith to be consistent with the words of Jesus, a lofty and yet inherently worthy and basic goal of the Christian life, then we must be at war with the things that Jesus was and is at war with; having embraced and been embraced by the white hot love of God in Jesus Christ, if we are not to be consumed by it, then we must participate and bath in it, and likewise burn with the unquenchable fire of His dazzling love as we war with those things with which God wars.
What are those things? They are simple and they are clear and they are present battles which wage today; now; this moment; in our hearts; in our lives; in the lives of those around us.
Our calling far exceeds the spectator mentality which resigns itself to its inability to fight the war! Our calling is inexplicably greater than merely assuming that all things are in accordance with the will of God and letting Him handle it!
Let it never be said of us that we sat by comfortably while the virus of injustice plagued the world around us. Faith works. Faith trusts in God now. Faith is a means of accessing the unquenchable power of God’s love and might today! Faith is not a means of eternal escapism, but empowerment!
I read of a well-known Florida restaurant called "Scotty's Pub." Outside that pub was a sign which made the continuing promise of "free beer tomorrow." A certain gentlemen lived there for six years and in all that time not a drop of free beer was dispensed. If there is free beer tomorrow there is no free beer.
Whether you are two or one hundred and two, faith is for today for bringing relief to those who are physically and spiritually poor. Whether you are five or fifty five, faith is for today and it is for the empowerment of bringing truth to those who are held captive by the rampant lies of this world.
Whether you are young, old, a new believer, have much faith or little faith, whatever faith that we have is to be used to engage the heart of God in our lives and to the equip us for bringing spiritual sight to those who are blinded by the world, supporting those who seek to cure disease, and giving a voice to those who are oppressed and have no voice!
The practical applications of this message are endless. The year of the Lord’s favor has come. That means that if we allow Him He will lead us into all truth by the power of His Spirit and guide us on the battlefield of this life.
My task is to lay bare the principals of Scripture. Our task is to allow the unquenchable white hot fire of God’s love to illuminate our path on this pilgrim’s journey to the places of His choosing for us to live it out.
If He tugs at your heart, even now, do not quench His call. If He speaks to you, in this moment, do not quit His voice. Respond in faith; here; now; today; in this world; in this life; in this consecrated moment.
“Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven; in me; through me.” Amen.