Prayers + Perspectives on Justice [January 2018]
The work of justice and restoration begins and ends with God.
Simple enough, right? It was God’s idea. Not ours.
It was God’s idea that humanity be created (Genesis 1:26-27). It was God’s idea that we would be a diverse people (Gen. 11:7-9, Rev. 7:9). It was God’s idea that the dividing wall of hostility between us would be torn down and that we would become a new humanity (Eph. 2: 14-16.)
Diverse and distinct. Unified, but not uniform. Active participants in God’s work to renew all things through Jesus (Rev. 21:5.)
If you’re anything like me, you lose sight of this some times. I get depressed by the magnitude of the social problems we’re facing. I become frustrated by my own self-centeredness and limitations. I am easily disillusioned by how long it takes people to change; my impatience gets the best of me.
A couple of weeks ago, these frustrations reached a breaking point. I was reading through Genesis, and when I reached the part about God creating humanity, I became incredibly sad. In taking one look at the world today, both in the United States and abroad, it’s easy to feel like God made a mistake when he made people. We seem bent on destroying ourselves, one another and the earth. This sadness overwhelmed me, so I began to pray for God to speak to me about it. I needed perspective and understanding.
Days later, while reading through passages in the Anglican lectionary, I stumbled upon verses like these:
“For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the fields is mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine.” Ps. 50: 10-12
“He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.” Ps. 33:5
“Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.” Ps. 33:20-22
These verses, and others, not only humbled me, but reminded me of a deep truth that I often forget: all reconciliation and all justice, begin and end with God. God alone ascribes human dignity; God alone has the power to convict and to transform our hearts. God alone decides what justice, peace and healing look like. Shalom –all things right, whole and new–is God’s idea. And the Scriptures are overflowing with evidence that God loves, sees and hears the marginalized and the poor. This is who God is. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of God’s throne (Ps. 89:14.) And while I am free to choose despair, it is my happy privilege instead to participate with God in this work to restore every broken thing.
You also get to make a choice.
You can choose to to grow in your ethnic identity
You can choose to explore theological perspectives that are from cultural backgrounds other than your own.
You can choose to understand racism and work to build a more loving and equitable society.
These are all glorious acts of participating in what God is already doing. He is at work reconciling all things, calling communities into repentance and forgiveness, and teaching us to do the kinds of justice that reflect the in-breaking of his kingdom.
My prayer for you, myself and for the Grace Dialogues community at the start of this new year is for us to entrust the work of racial healing to God. It for this to be more than a quiet, disengaged belief in the eventual goodness of God. My prayer is for us to be proactive, engaged participants on the journey. I pray for us to hear from the Holy Spirit as we discern what is ours to do in light of what God has already done.
These are my thoughts and prayers for our community this January. I'm looking forward to building racial justice, equity and reconciliation capacity in compassionate and influential communities this year.
Much love, friends.