Yeah, I Know...Bah! hum bug. I'm a party pooper. I haven't always been this way...it's been a forty year journey to this point. It's been processing, digesting the word of God. Sometimes it stays down. Sometimes you puke it up...because it's too unsettling in the pit of your stomach. But this year, what I've metabolized has likely turned into what for many will be a heretical revelation. For anyone that would like to hear, join me...for those of you that don't, press escape.
I've never been big on predestination. That life is somehow a scripted play, that we are all actors living it out on a big stage word for word. Do we really enter and exit the stage as directed? Can we the actors change the course of the play, or are there really strings attached to each one of us that limits our movement.
Maybe...there is no script. Maybe, it is one of the most mysteriously profound relationships that anyone of us can imagine, including God. Maybe, faith is this fragile relationship in which we are willing to chance trust in God...and God trust in us.
And, if there is something that holds this relationship together...it is " Justice and Righteousness ." This is the strand, more than anything that seems to knit God and Humanity together. Through the prophets, through to the prophetic revelation of Jesus becoming a fulfilled reality. The strand of Justice and Righteousness holds it all together.
How often, maybe we unconsciously recite the Lord's Prayer, the opening words...
The words of Isaiah and Jeremiah should haunt us. " The Lord is exalted," proclaims Isaiah, " He dwells on high; He filled Zion with justice and righteousness." ( Isa 33:5 ) And, Jeremiah speaking in the name of God, " I act with steadfast love, justice and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight."
The reality, and life of the relationship is that Justice and Righteousness flows from God to us...and from us through out all creation. This is the reality of " Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." In this profound mysterious truth " God and Humanity " dwell together in the most powerful vibrant harmony. This is the power and beauty of the Kingdom that defies all imagination.
Prophet after prophet spoke the same thing, God's will for " Justice and Righteousness." Our lofty worship, our pious words, our legal rituals and laws...our sacrifice...brought no delight to our heavenly Father. One thing he delighted in, and one thing he desired...Justice and Righteousness.
But in our " Self " fixation. We with our myopia have only been able to see Justice and Righteousness as being about " Us." The apple thing in the garden. Bad deserves punishment. If the bad are punished, justice has been served...things are made right.
Big question...could things be put right if humanity radically took God at his word and lived out " Justice and Righteousness." You can't help but listen to the prophets...and begin to think, maybe.
Micah, I think wondered and asked the same question...
How can I stand up before God
and show proper respect to the high God?
Should I bring an armload of offerings
topped off with yearling calves?
Would God be impressed with thousands of rams,
with buckets and barrels of olive oil?
Would he be moved if I sacrificed my firstborn child,
my precious baby, to cancel my sin?
But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do,
what God is looking for in men and women.
It's quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don't take yourself too seriously—
take God seriously. ( Mic 6:6-8 )
And from the prophet Jeremiah, " This is God's Message: Attend to matters of justice. Set things right between people. Rescue victims from their exploiters. Don't take advantage of the homeless, the orphans, the widows. Stop the murdering!" ( Jer 22:3 )
I think the tragedy of Christmas, is it is so much about " us "...God entered into the midst of humanity to forgive us our sin. When incredibly it is about the divine redemptive imagination of the God of ALL creation, birthed into the midst of humanity...recreating, speaking and breathing a new Genesis into humanity. It is the pulse, and passion of His heart...His delight in justice and righteousness. It is the profound reality of His Kingdom."
That has become our fixation, " Sin. " Him being punished on our behalf, our debt to God paid.It is something we worship so much that we are blind to Justice and Righteousness...the reality that truly restores our relationship with God.
Could it be God grew weary of sending prophets, repeating the same message over and over again...to a humanity that was growing increasingly deaf to anything God had to say.
Could it be that God got to some point between the beginning and the end and said, " @#$% ^* ", And grabbed his mustard seed of faith...a profound incredibly mysterious part of himself...birthing himself into the womb of humanity.
If humanity couldn't listen to the prophets words about Justice and Righteousness...maybe humanity could see and hear the reality of God's Justice and Righteousness in their midst. That seed that was birthed into the womb of humanity was the Son of God. Jesus was birthed outside religion, birthed on the margins of humanity, birthed in poverty, injustice and oppression. It was here Jesus became the living reality of God's Justice and Righteousness. It is here, he called humanity to follow into God's Righteousness and Justice. If we believed, if we followed, if we lived it...it would be God's Kingdom on earth as in heaven.
The question that haunts me this Christmas is...could it be that Jesus didn't sacrifice himself for our sin, but we killed him, because...Justice and Righteousness are just too costly? This Christmas, are you thinking more about worship...or Justice and Righteousness? I wonder what gift God would delight in?
In the radical scandalous redemptive imagination of Jesus...I think he imagined that something would be birthed much more redemptive than a christmas ritual. Sadly, we think he came for our forgiveness...when he came to reveal the Father's will, the Father's passion, what the Father truly delights in. Justice and Righteousness for " ALL " humanity.