Friday, May 18, 2007

The Justice and Mercy series at Calvary (see was an emotional series -- even more for those who participated in the breakout sessions during the week in addition to the Sunday services.

God has been stirring in my heart with new insight, understanding, conviction, and compassion.

Most of the responses I've heard have been extremely positive with people growing in their understanding about the tragedies of poverty and racism--not just in the world, but also in West Michigan. Some are seeing the importance of responding to need without also trying to judge or attach responsibility and blame (something that comes rather naturally, cf John 9:1ff). There is a new wave of people committed to growing in justice and mercy.

Perhaps the cummulative effect of (1) the long Book of Acts series with it's frequent mention of ministering to the poor (chs. 2, 4, 6, etc), (2) the "stories Jesus told series" which spotlighted poverty-related themes again, and now (3) the 4-week Justice and Mercy series, have left some understandably weary and wanting to move on to new themes. That's why our next series will focus on 1 Peter, Contentment, and a survey of the Old Testament.

Some are wondering what happened to their pastor...even wondering if he has "gone Liberal" with his new interest in the "social gospel." I haven't. But I have had to repent of having an "unsociable gospel," a perversion of Scripture, which too often didn't address the whole man. Certainly our priority is the proclamation of the Gospel of salvation through faith in Christ. The biggest changes in poverty and racism will come when people experience the transformation of Christ's redemption in their lives. But I now have had the blinders removed (at least in part) that hindered me from seeing the powerful emphasis in Scripture on Justice and Mercy related issues.

Today I was challenged by the "virtually book" Bono has written (with others) at

Read it!

Perhaps some have responded negatively because of God's conviction in their lives of hidden racist attitudes or of a lack of a compassionate and generous spirit. If we are not ready to repent, we typically find ways to excuse, justify, rationalize, or accuse and counter attack.

I certainly am not suggesting that anyone who had negative feelings about our Justice and Mercy series is in this last category. These are difficult and complex issues and we all look at them through the lens of our own experiences and understanding. We are all at different stages of maturity and immaturity.

I was deeply convicted by the prophet's words (Isaiah 58:6-9):

6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousnessa will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

1 comment:

Jody said...

I've been moved by the Justice/Mercy series. Thank you for your 'growing' spiritual awarness, and for passing it on to others like me. God has been stirring in my heart for different people and ministries. And I see now more than ever just how blessed I am. I don't think I will ever do 'enough' in my life for others...but God is teaching me to do 'my part'. And it will somehow be 'enough' because of HIS grace and mercy.
Prayers for you and Gloria. Thank you for your ministries to so many.