It is hard to believe that just a few decades ago, we were a nation that accepted discrimination as a way of life and embedded in law. It is equally hard in hindsight to believe that the institution of slavery in England and the United States could be justified by Christians and defended with scripture. The lesson is that it is easy to be blind to injustice around us when that injustice is embedded in our culture, thinking and political battles. Even the biblical message of Martin Luther King so lauded today was scorned by so many in his own time.
The question for us today is what are we blind to in our time that a few decades from now others will look back at and wonder how we could have missed it. My guess it will include issues of immigration and our response to it from a Biblical perspective, issues of justice for those who do not have a voice and the massive human trafficking that has more people in slavery today than at the height of the Atlantic slave trade.
In a world that is cruel to the marginalized, where cycles of poverty keep generations in often hopeless circumstances, where basic needs like clean water, sanitation and a meal a day can be only dreamed of and where corrupt governments, officials and institutions deny basic justice we need to be reminded of the heart of God. The prophet Micah said it cogently: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
On a personal level there are three simple questions: Do I act justly in my interactions with others and in a way that never takes advantage of them? Do I love mercy and display mercy in my actions, help, and attitudes and even apply God’s heart of mercy to my political views? And do I walk humbly, as Jesus did as a servant to others rather than insisting on my rights and in my humility enter into the hurt, need and humanity of others?
Further, what am I doing to respond to the needs of our world with my time, my generous giving and my attention? The Gospel of Christ is a holistic gospel as evidenced by the life of Christ who cared for the circumstances of those around Him and the call of the prophets. Isaiah, like Micah said it eloquently. “Is this not 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? Is it not to share you food with the hungry, and to provide the poor wanderer (immigrant?) with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” (Isaiah 58:6-7).
It is to those whose hearts and actions reflect God’s heart that he gives this promise. “Then your light will break forth like the dawn and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call and the Lord will answer, you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I” (Isaiah 58:8-9).
Take just a moment and reflect on your response to Micah, Isaiah or the Biblical message of Martin Luther King. Are we reflecting the concerns of God for justice and mercy? Are we doing something tangible to ensure that “His will is done on earth as it is in heaven?” We cannot do everything but we can do something. What are we doing?
Let’s take time to regularly reflect on where we may be blind to issues around us or simply taking the easy way out by ignoring them. It is about having the heart of God which is a heart of mercy, justice, care for the marginalized and impoverished and those who have no voice. It is a divine heart of compassion that desires to bring His will wherever we can to broken people.