I agree, Mervin. And the reason justice is mentioned so often is because it is so difficult to do consistently. We need those reminders. However, while justice and mercy is something we all are called to in our personal lives, we have different roles to play in the Kingdom, and cannot and should not all be social justice warriors. I’ve been reading Andy Walsh’s Faith Across the Multiverse, and enjoyed his description of how all the body’s cells have the same DNA, but are differentiated as to function due to the differences in expression, just as we are differentiated as part of the body of Christ.
As long as Christians don’t run with “in our personal lives” as a reason to dismiss themselves from all responsibility towards wider - even global concerns. It’s been noted and observed that we more easily support philanthropy so that our consciences are salved, and (we then hope) we will be spared having to address any systemic injustices that make philanthropy so desperately needed in the first place.
Cynical definition of a philanthropist: “Someone who gives money away when people are looking, and takes it when they aren’t.” - my paraphrase from “the devil’s dictionary.”
While I hate the thought of offending many kind-hearted philanthropists whose generosity benefit so many of us - there is, unfortunately, good reason that these cynical definitions have so much traction. Christians would do well to not throw fuel on that fire, and better yet if we make it a personal mission to put such fires [injustices] out, or at least lessen them. If we are called by scriptures to have open hands towards our neighbors, I think we can safely see the corollary: we are also called to not help perpetuate systems that exploit our neighbors in the first place. It’s dangerous for any of us or any denomination to excuse themselves from all such concerns.
But we can’t all be effectively concerned about everything all the time, and I think your words really shine through in that regard. We also can’t be paralyzed from life by finding all the evil complicities present in everything we do. Thankfully the body of Christ is diverse!
See how many echoes of Jesus you can find in these passages from Isaiah and Zechariah:
“Cry aloud, spare not;
Lift up your voice like a trumpet;
Tell My people their transgression,
And the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet they seek Me daily,
And delight to know My ways,
As a nation that did righteousness,
And did not forsake the ordinance of their God.
They ask of Me the ordinances of justice;
They take delight in approaching God.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen?
Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’
“In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure,
And exploit all your laborers.
Indeed you fast for strife and debate,
And to strike with the fist of wickedness.
You will not fast as you do this day,
To make your voice heard on high.
Is it a fast that I have chosen,
A day for a man to afflict his soul?
Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush,
And to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Would you call this a fast,
And an acceptable day to the Lord?
“ Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am. ’
“If you take away the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
If you extend your soul to the hungry
And satisfy the afflicted soul,
Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,
And your darkness shall be as the noonday.”
– Isaiah 58:1-10
Then the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts:
‘Execute true justice,
Show mercy and compassion
Everyone to his brother.
Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless,
The alien or the poor.
Let none of you plan evil in his heart
Against his brother.’
“But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets.
– Zechariah 7:8-12
Thanks for reintroducing me to the minor prophets lately. I enjoy them; I think I’ll start using them for devotions. I remember learning the books of the Bible as a child, and we rushed through the “Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi!”–but it’s good to get back into them.
I’m very excited because tomorrow, in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, our Theology class will be studying MLK’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” (Unless the storm prevents me from getting into the city)
According to our teacher,
"This theological and justice-oriented missive from 1963 was addressed to various church leaders in Birmingham when Dr. King was arrested for non-violent protests against segregation.
Though initially begun for a specific purpose, the letter that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote while incarcerated in Birmingham ultimately addressed universal questions of freedom and inequality. It is because of its ambitious reach that “Letter from Birmingham Jail” has remained such an enduring document, arguably one of the most important American works of theology and philosophy."
And then in February, Jeremy Waldron, professor of legal and political philosophy at NYU School of Law, will be teaching a series on the biblical perspective of justice and judgement in the light of the prophetic tradition of the Hebrew Scripture.
Spiritual body maybe…but He also was able to eat food … it was a body of some sort, ;probably physical yet different from ours…
Absolutely! This tells me that a living spirit with a resurrected spiritual body is everything we have right now and more – not less in any way at all. But to leave you with a thought… to be sure we can eat, but do we have to? Would we die without food? Are we only imperishable if we get our nutritional requirements?
Personally, I think the only nutritional requirement for a healthy eternal spiritual life is a relationship with God.
I often wonder if Jesus’s and our eventual “spiritual” bodies aren’t simply our physical ones reconstructed with perfected DNA. Henrietta Lax’s cells are immortal. Cancerous but immortal. DNA is a marvelous creation, if perfected so that it would not mutate; we could live forever. Assuming that God can, and why couldn’t He? Why wouldn’t God use what He has already has created? As far as walking through walls and stuff. I imagine that technology could just as well be responsible for that as any characteristic of our bodies.
It’s an interesting question, one that we won’t know for sure about in this life; I don’t imagine.
Could be, Mitchell… And I also like Beagle Lady’s thoughts here. But another post-er – a few readings up – posted more biblical examples. Jesus is God and He can do anything, of course. But His actual physical body walked out of that tomb – don’t know what it looked like after all the ravages of crucifixion – so there is some reason to insist on the resurrection being physical (ancient Judaism would not have objected to a spiritual resurrection anyway — it is the physical one that was upsetting) …So He did make an effort to demonstrate to His disciples, at the time, that His body was a legitimately physical entity.
But then He also walked through walls and also just appeared…and they had trouble recognizing Him, which may mean they simply did not expect to see Him or that something was changed?
Good for speculation…As for eating in the future or not — well, could be. Food was not meant to be fattening, give you heart disease, etc…Yes, man does not live by bread alone but by —you fill it in…but we might occasionally still like chocolate!! We just will not be overeating it.
70 years is a long way from immortal. HeLa cells may live a long time, but billions of years? Sea urchins live a long time, but there are no organisms that come close to being truly immortal.
Jesus has existed since the beginning, which is much, much longer than 13.8 billion years. His spiritual body is truly immortal, and yes He does was and drink in spirit.
If DNA reproduces perfectly each time, it will be immortal. I don’t see how that would be so difficult for the Creator of the Universe to do.
Where did this perfect DNA live prior to the Big Bang, in the beginning?
This is a terrific passage. Thanks for posting it; it’s particularly relevant to the medical community, I think, of which I am a part. However, it shows how the American dream is diametrically opposed to Christ’s commands. It reminds me of David Platt, in “Radical,” where he points this out.
Why would it need to live before the Big Bang?
Because the Big Bang is just the beginning of the material world, God and Jesus created it, so they lived before the Big Bang.
So? What does that have to do with the human body? A body that Jesus took on at his birth on this planet? The human body wasn’t around before the Big Bang.
His spiritual body is immortal and you jumped to the idea of immortal DNA which a material substance, not spiritual. Jesus came back to His disciples in His immortal, spiritual body, which has existed since the beginning.
I disagree that it was His same body “from the beginning” as do many here.
I’m getting a notice about replying to you too much so I shan’t anymore. It is pointless to argue when we do agree on such basic things as to what kind of body it was.
Interesting to think about. Would it really mean that? Think of the implications. You might never age, but a baby would never grow and matUre, cells that wear out might not get replaced, while not changes in the DNA code, growth maturity, and ultimately age is a part of the process. Would age just progress to a point and then stop? Would we be curved with a world full of middle aged people?
Good thoughts, and my comments were not that we should not stand for justice and mercy, but that it is not the calling of all to make it their life’s work, or for all congregations to focus on that, as we also need teachers, preachers, and so forth. If every church made having a food bank their priority, we would be well fed physically, but the competing foods banks would be in conflict.