During the spring quarter (March, April and May), I had the opportunity of writing 14 Sunday School lessons for the South Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church on the subject of “Justice and The Prophets.” It was an enlightening though intense study of God’s intention to bring about justice in the world, humankind’s failure to heed the message and refusal to repent, and God’s judgmental fulfillment of his promise to set things right.
Truthfully, God has not kept his desires for his people a secret. As the prophet Micah put it, God wants us to live lives that reflect his priorities and passions (Micah-6:6-8).
“To act justly!” Treating people justly may be thought of as treating people just as God would treat them (Jeremiah 22:3).
Dorothy Day, the noted Catholic social worker, once asked, “Why is it that when I raise money to feed the poor, ‘I’m a saint’ but when I ask why they are poor anyway, ‘I’m a Communist?’”
To work for justice is not just a nice thing, it’s a sacred obligation.
“To love mercy!” It describes the feeling of getting inside another’s skin and feeling what he/she is feeling or hoping or wishing. Mercy is the other person’s pain in our heart.
It is significant that Francis of Assisi once came upon a half-broken beggar. Wrapping his own coat about him, Francis said, “Here friend. Here is thy cloak. I have kept it from thee far too long already. Francis identified with the beggar and then extended mercy.
The key, however, to understanding both justice and mercy is a relationship with God, and that is where “walking worthy” becomes critical. Without humility, both justice and mercy go by the boards. It is only in our relationship with God that we put ourselves in the channel of God’s extended grace of justice and mercy.
As minister Dr. David Jeremiah observed, “Humility is the ability to use the power and resources we possess for the good of others.”
With this biblical background and our recent societal happenings in our cities and across our nation, I want to share a few additional thoughts — not necessarily original but definitely heartfelt.
1. Everybody deserves a hearing! Without doubt, the protesters have a right to be heard.
2. Justice must be implemented — police brutality ended, criminal justice reform, better health care, more funding for substandard schools, etc.
3. Prayer is a necessity! The responsibility for solving our present and future concerns of racism and whether it is not God’s alone or is it our’s alone. It is a partnership and is built on prayer and God’s word.
4. Respect for others is primary! Respect for others is not a color or white issue, but a human issue. God created all of us in his image as human beings.
5. Being in it together is the reality! As Andrew Young, civil rights leader, former mayor of Atlanta and United Nations ambassador, stated it, “We must find a way to live together as brothers and sisters. If not, we will perish together as fools.”
6. Those who commit violence and looting must be identified and weeded out! They betray the very just cause of those who authentically demonstrate.
7. Unity is the goal not just civility! Jesus said, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12).
It’s about being brothers and sisters under the Fatherhood of God. Our unity is not in ourselves but in God.
8. Love is stronger than hate, and the only authentic solution to racism! Bishop Woody White shared that “Jesus constantly reminded his followers that their love for one another determines the validly of their love for him.”
9. Humility is the avenue of progress, cooperation and action.
10. Repentance and change are the hope, and it will take all of us working together to ultimately make it a reality.
God guide and bless our cities and nation as we move into new days together.