Who Are We

Wayne, Hilary & Adelaide Denny. Preparing to Serve in Leadership Training in Senegal, Africa. God has called us to take advantage of a unique window of religious freedom in Muslim Senegal by equipping church leaders who have a heart for reaching their country and the Muslim world.

We should be jealous. . . for the honour of His name – troubled when it remains unknown, hurt when it is ignored, indignant when it is blasphemed. And all the time anxious and determined that it shall be given the honour and glory which are due to it.” John Stott

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ever heard a sermon on Isaiah 63?

I haven’t. The first 6 verses present God judging the nations as if He were stomping grapes (i.e. the nations) in a winepress. The metaphor portrays the garments of God as stained with blood from this judgment. Why do these verses often make us uneasy? Why are countless sermons on the love of God as portrayed in the parable of the prodigal son to be found; yet very few on this portrayal of God’s justice?

A few weeks back, I was listening to a 3 part series on the book of Romans by N.T. Wright. As the justice of God surfaces in the book of Romans, Wright made a passing comment about how in Western countries, the justice of God is often spoken of with unease, but in many countries in the world, God’s justice is cherished. The justice of God is not an attribute in competition with His love, but an extension of it. The reason Wright states this is so is because in so many countries justice is not the norm but the exception.

Think about it, what if you lived your life expecting injustice? What if you expected every cop to be dirty? Sure, some are, but not all. What if you expected every public project to never be finished but simply fill the pockets of a government official? I think what struck me the most about Wright’s comment was how out of touch I am with injustices that occur in the world. If Myanmar was not just a headline on my homepage, but something I regularly thought about, would I not long more for the day of God’s justice instead of being uneasy about it?

Longing for justice is not foreign to us. We don’t watch Die Hard With a Vengeance and hope that the terrorists are caught, but then simply let go. Come on, can’t the judicial system just let em go? I mean, this is only the first time they’ve tried to tear apart the country. As I thought about how much I long for justice while watching movies yet find it rarely passes my mind while reading the news, I was struck by a challenge from the great theologian Bono in the song Sunday, bloody, Sunday:

And the truth is we are immune
When fact is fiction and TV reality
And today the millions cry
We eat and drink while tomorrow they die
And the battle is just begun
To claim the victory Jesus won
On Sunday, bloody Sunday

This post doesn’t isn’t geared at a specific aspect of our ministry in Senegal, just some thoughts about God’s justice. I’d love to hear some of your thoughts also on why God’s justice makes us uneasy when many parts of the world cherish that attribute. Also, why do we cheer for justice in movies but scan news headlines as if we just want to be up to date with everyday conversations or internet current event quizzes (or at least answer why I do that)?


Rob said...

I've noticed that people treat God's attributes like a salad bar. When there is evil and suffering done by others they want God's justice. But when it comes to the application of God's justice toward their own sin, they want his love.

The first is the problem of evil - If God is just, He would do something about all the evil and suffering in the world.

The second is the problem of exclusivity - If God is love, He would just accept people for who they are.

Tripp said...

Yeah I was just thinking the other day how so much of what the Bible speaks of Americans just can't understand because we don't experience it.
In James 5:1-5 speaks against the rich, but specifically condemning "withholding pay to laborers who mowed your fields." The Bible speaks out against the rich a lot, but it's almost always in the context of them not paying their laborers what they deserve. This is still happening in much of the world today, and it is an injustice. Bribes and corruption are the norm in other parts of the world, but we take justice for granted because it's just always been there. I'm grateful and thankful for the justice I often take for granted, but often wonder how much of the Bible we miss because we live in such a luxurious and comfortable society?

Wayne said...

Rob, I agree; but often when there is suffering for others; I'm still not longing for justice. I'm simply not paying attention. Case in point would be, how many of us lose sleep over what's happening in Darfur or in Myanmar?

I think part of the problem is what Tripp said; we can't relate. I have no idea what it is like to be afraid for my life. So how can I sympathize with those in other parts of the world who do fear for their lives? Can I do things differently here that make it to where injustices in other parts of the world do bother me?

Rob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob said...

In the parable of the prodigal, when he leaves home, most Americans are quick to point out how he squandered all his wealth on frivolous living and prostitutes. We think of this being the direct cause of his hardship. Besides, what could be worse than licentious living? Those in less fortunate cultures quickly notice the famine. Most Americans don't even know there's a famine in this story.

Wayne said...

That one caught me. I never realized the famine either.

Jim said...

Good post for making us think. This is going to stick with me for quite some time. Thanks for your efforts Wayne!