Daily Riches: The Divine Emphasis on Economic Justice (Walter Brueggemann)

 “But if you or your descendants abandon me and disobey the commands and decrees I have given you, and if you serve and worship other gods, then I will uproot Israel from this land …. reject this Temple …. [and] make Israel an object of mockery….” 1 Kings 9:6-7

“…the problem that now jeopardizes the city [Jerusalem] is not a large disregard of creation. That is too cosmic for this poet [Jeremiah] or the God he speaks. The problem for biblical faith is always more concrete. When the moral shape of reality is disregarded, the crisis does not show up in some generalized way. It shows up, characteristically, as neighbor crisis…:

“Like fowlers they set a trap;
they catch human beings.
Like a cage full of birds….”
Jeremiah 5:26b-27a

“They use and abuse and exploit because, without an ‘if,’ [see 1 Kings above] everything is possible – greed, brutality, despair, all of it, with the neighbor as target. In our stupidity, these folk do not look like neighbors that are protected by God’s ‘if.’ They look only like an inconvenience, or even a threat. And, you guessed it: this whole abusive insensitivity comes down, as it always does, to economics. it does not come down to sexuality or to purity or to private morality, but to dollar power and dollar manipulation:

“Therefore they have become great and rich,
they have grown fat and sleek,
They know no limits in deeds of wickedness;
they do not judge with justice
the cause of the orphan, to make it prosper,
and they do not defend the rights of the needy.”
Jeremiah 5:27b-28

…The poet makes a  very quick, very large travel from the God who tames chaos (v. 22) to the crisis of drought (v. 24) to economic abuse of neighbor (vv. 26-28). In such a quick review, the poet places on God’s lips the assertion of a connection between specific neighbor care and the vast problem of chaos and order. And between the specific neighbor and the large order of the cosmos is the problem of drought and the undoing of a ‘sustainable creation.’ It is all there, all held together, in five quick verses, all an invitation for the numbed city to awaken, for those who refuse to see and to fear and to tremble [vv. 21,22].” Walter Brueggemann

Moving From Head to Heart

  • If “neighbor crisis” signifies a society’s moral failure, how would measure your society?
  • The prophets emphasize economic justice (“defending the rights of the needy.”) Is this important to you?
  • Today, when our cities “refuse to see and to fear and to tremble” we are hardly surprised, but what about when Christian communities are “numbed?”

Abba, may we not be your foolish and senseless people.

For More: Threat of Life by Walter Brueggemann

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 Thanks for reading/sharing! –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Boldly Loving the Unloved (Matt McAlack)

“This past winter, we had unusually cold weather…. Some nights, temperatures plummeted below zero. Dashing from a warm car through the cold into a warm house, I thought of the dozens of people …near our University, who had no warm place to sleep. I couldn’t imagine how difficult it would be to try to survive overnight in the cold. The physical cold might be unbearable, but for me, the more painful reality would be that no one loved me enough to invite me inside on such a cold night. I grew up in a Christian environment, but as a child and teenager, I heard very little about God’s heart for those in need. I’m not sure how we missed it, because the Bible is full of passages speaking about God’s justice, compassion, and faithful love for those who have nothing, who are marginalized or oppressed. God is pleased when His church acts like Him, showing compassion for those in need, and God can use this generosity to lead those who don’t know Him to a saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Social justice is not the gospel, but it is a natural consequence of the gospel taking root in our hearts. Jesus’ half-brother James says that true faith produces godly action (James 1:22). He further explains that true devotion to God results in taking action to care for those who could never repay us: “orphans and widows in their affliction” (James 1:27, ESV). …In Isaiah 58, the children of Israel are rebuked because of their lack of response to the oppressed, the hungry, and the homeless. The children of Israel were repeatedly commanded to care for those who were displaced or in need, because the Israelites themselves were once immigrants in need. Now they were practicing outward religious activities such as fasting, but they were not demonstrating any evidence of a heart like God’s heart.” Matt McAlack

 “our Lord Jesus Christ … though He was rich,
yet for your sake …became poor”
2 Corinthians 8:9

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • If you were sitting on the sidewalk in the bitter cold, ignored by people walking past, would you feel loved by God?
  • Doesn’t practicing “social justice” create a context which gives meaning and power to the gospel when it’s preached? If a “gospel” fails the “justice test”, can it really be “good news?”
  • Are you developing a “heart like God’s heart” – not only in church, but on the street?

Abba, help us embrace the poverty that will enable us to enrich others.

For More:  The Prodigal God by Tim Keller

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog.  I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Outcasts and the Conversion of the Church (Richard Rohr, Philip Yancey and Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

“Those at the edge, ironically, always hold the secret for the conversion of every age and culture. They always hold the projected and denied parts of our soul. Only as the People of God receive the stranger and the leper, those who don’t play our game, do we discover not only the hidden and hated parts of our own souls, but the Lord Jesus himself. In letting go, we make room for the Other. The Church is always converted when the outcasts are re-invited into the temple.” Richard Rohr

“In a world ruled by law, grace stands as a sign or contradiction. We want fairness; the gospel gives us an innocent man nailed to a cross who cries out, ‘Father, forgive them.’ We want respectability; the gospel elevates tax collectors, prodigals, and Samaritans. We want success; the gospel reverses the terms, moving the poor and downtrodden to the head of the line and the wealthy and famous to the rear. …To follow Jesus [means] to respond as he did, against all reason to dispense grace and love to those who deserve it least. …We see ourselves as on the side of Christ by giving to the needy. The new Testament makes plain, however, that Jesus is on the side of the poor, and we serve best by elevating the downtrodden to the place of Jesus.  … the direction of charity is not condescending, but rather ascending: in serving the weak and the poor, we are privileged to serve God himself.”  Philip Yancey

“There remains an experience of incomparable value. We have for once learned to see the great events of world history from below, from the perspective of the outcasts, the suspects, the maltreated – in short, from the perspective of those who suffer. Mere waiting and looking on is not Christian behavior. Christians are called to compassion and to action.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith
and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?”
James 2:5

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • If a church is “converted” by “outcasts” that it welcomes, to what degree is your church being converted?
  • How is your church doing at “dispensing grace and love to those who deserve it least?” Are such people even showing up in your church?
  • What do you do that helps you to see “from the perspective of those who suffer?” Is that something you desire? What would be the point?

Abba, may I see you and serve you in serving the maltreated of my day.

For More: Soul Survivor by Philip Yancey

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I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill

 

Daily Riches: Learning from the South and East, the Black and the Brown (Jim Wallis)

“What brought me to Korea was a unique ‘Global Forum for the Future of World Christianity.’ Held on Jeju Island, off the coast of South Korea, it was hosted by three of the largest megachurches in South Korea (and the world) including Myungsung Church. That means this Korean conference of evangelical and Pentecostal leaders from around the world was financially independent from American evangelicalism’s money and political ideology. …for the first time in 1,000 years, more Christians are found in the global South than the North. The center of Christianity has dramatically shifted, and that means the agenda was very different from the northern and western agendas of the older white evangelicals in America and the issues they think most important. Korea could play a particular and convening role as a bridge between the churches of the global north and south. …these global South evangelicals spent their time together wrestling with issues of global economic inequality, the realities of climate change, the imperatives of racial justice, and the need for Christians to wage peace instead of war. Since these are the issues that global evangelical and Pentecostal constituencies are facing in their own lives – and of course, the Bible addresses all of them as central issues Christians need to confront – the narrow, white American evangelical agenda had no interest in this global evangelical and Pentecostal forum. The fact is that they represent a different evangelical world. …How refreshing it was to be in the presence of leaders of faith – heads of these huge churches that represent millions – who are more interested in the needs of the poor and the call of Christ than … reducing gospel concerns to a few hot button social and sexual issues. Their wider global evangelical agenda rings true with black and brown evangelicals in America and a new generation of even white evangelicals emerging in America. Both globally and here in America, these emerging leaders give me hope.” Jim Wallis

“I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight”
Jeremiah 9:24

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Must we choose between Western and Southern evangelical concerns? What would a “Yes, And …” approach look like?
  • Have you unintentionally or thoughtlessly adopted a parochial approach?
  • Do issues like dramatic economic inequality, perilous climate change, the need for racial justice, and supporting peace-making instead of war-making seem to you like valid Biblical concerns? ones that ought to be addressed from the pulpit?

Abba, use my brothers and sisters to the South and East, black and brown – and poor, to stretch me, and help me see with new eyes.

For More: From Times Square to Timbuktu by Wes Granberg-Michaelson

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Thanks for following “Daily Riches!” –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: The Lord’s Prayer and Structural Evil (Dallas Willard, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Tim Keller)

“But in human affairs other ‘kingdoms’ [other than God’s kingdom] may for a time be in power, and often are. This second request [of the Lord’s prayer] asks for those kingdoms to be displaced, wherever they are, or brought under God’s rule. …And we are especially praying about the structural or institutionalized evils that rule so much of the earth. These prevailing circumstances daily bring multitudes to do deeply wicked things they do not even give a thought to. They do not know what they are doing and do not have the ability to distance themselves from it so they can see it for what it is…. We therefore pray for our Father to break up these higher-level patterns of evil. And, among other things, we ask him to help us see the patterns we are involved in. We ask him to help us not cooperate with them, to cast light on them and act effectively to remove them.” Dallas Willard

“Jesus, in his incarnation, ‘moved in’ with the poor. He lived with, ate with, and associated with the socially ostracized (Matt 9:13). He raised the son of the poor widow (Luke 7:11-16) and showed the greatest respect to the immoral woman who was a social outcast (Luke 7:36ff). Indeed, Jesus spoke with women in public, something that a man with any standing in society would not have done, but Jesus resisted the sexism of his day (John 4:27). Jesus also refused to go along with the racism of his culture, making a hated Samaritan the hero of one of his most famous parables (Luke 10:26ff) and touching off a riot when he claimed that God loved Gentiles like the widow of Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian as much as Jews (Luke 4:25-27). Jesus showed special concern for children, despite his apostles’ belief that they were not worth Jesus’s time (Luke 18:15).” Tim Keller

“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath wheels of injustice; we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“How long will you defend the unjust
and show partiality to the wicked?
Defend the weak and the fatherless;
uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
Psalm 82:2-4

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you asking God to help you “see the patterns of evil” that you’re involved in? that you allow by your consent or “cooperation?”
  • Are you asking God to help you “cast light on” these structural evils and “act to remove them?”
  • Does your relationship with Jesus give you a burden to “drive a spoke into the wheel” of injustice?

Abba, may thy kingdom come, may thy will be done – on earth as in is in heaven.

For More:  The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard
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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. [with today being a very rare exception!] I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”