Preparing for Worship: The Sabbath & Justice

Preparing for Worship: The Sabbath & Justice

John Haralson   •   January 22, 2016

"One cannot legitimately give God thanks and praise while ignoring the poor and needy."

Allen Ross, Holiness to the Lord

I have, simultaneously, a great affection for and a great aversion to parts of the Bible that talk about God’s love of justice. On the one hand, they are so simple and gloriously true. The logic goes something like this.

God created all people in love.

Therefore, he wants everyone to be treated with justice.

God’s people should be people of justice

It’s pretty much impossible to argue against that kind of reasoning. And, not surprisingly, we find it everywhere in Scripture. For example, James 1:27 gives us this succinct analysis of what Christians are supposed to be like:

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

I find myself greatly desiring to be a person who pursues justice―someone who is compassionate and gives of myself to help others who are in great need.

At the same time, whenever I consider these kinds of passages in Scripture―and, trust me, there are a bunch of them―I get squeamish. I’m not sure I’m the person I want to be.

Do I care for the poor enough? Absolutely not. I mean, I’m no Robber Baron, but I’m so often absorbed with my own life and needs. There is so much need for me to grow in this area.

So, often, I read through the “let justice roll down” parts of Scripture with a mixture of resonance and anxiety. I want to be more of an agent of God’s justice, but I feel like I’m doing a pretty lousy job. And, my ever-present “privilege guilt” is right there tisk-tisking me for not doing more.

This week, we are exploring a pretty powerful (and incisive) piece of Scripture that speaks about God’s desire for his people to live justly in the world. At the same time, I think you might be surprised at how this text, in it’s broader setting, actually can be used by God to begin to transform us in a way that privilege guilt simply cannot.

This week: The Sabbath & Justice Isaiah 58:1-14

Liturgy is here.

I hope to worship with you.

Warmly in Christ,

John