Devotion - June 12

All this week our devotions are from members of the West Side family. Since we are separated during this time, and you are hearing a good deal from me as your pastor but less, perhaps, from one another, it's a gift to hear and join in how others in our fellowship are walking with Jesus during this time.

Today’s devotion is from Rick Boogaard. Rick has been a deacon, elder and served on pastor nominating committee. He works at Boeing as an internal auditor. Rick is married to Shelley and have the two smartest, best looking grandkids ever.

Paul Smith once said his sermons were him sharing with us what he had learned in his study time. Same with this devotional except it’s me sharing rather than Paul.

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

This verse is often the basis for much of what the church terms social justice. In fact it was the theme to our denomination’s General Assembly in 2008. But many of the social justice actions proposed there seemed to run counter to the Word. A relationship to the Gospel was missing or taken out of context. Based on that experience and how I saw culture use the term, I completely avoided the subject for ten years.

When I think back on that time, the analogy Jesus used on building your foundation on rock or sand in Matthew 7 seems apt.

“These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.

“But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”

Who wants to be a stupid carpenter? So for the past year or so I’ve been attempting to reconcile society’s view, our denomination’s view and my view with God’s view. Most important is reconciling myself with God’s view. It’s an uncomfortable process and more challenging than imagined. Books by John Perkins (Dream with Me and One Blood), Tim Keller (Generous Justice) and others have been part of the process.

Perkins wrote, “… we can find Scripture passages that were misread, mishandled, or misinterpreted for the sake of making the Bible line up with people’s cultural biases and agendas.” Keller noted, “The churches of America are often more controlled by the surrounding political culture than by the spirit of Jesus and the prophets.” Whether conservative, liberal or some other definition, this looks to be true. The exact thing I’m attempting to avoid! But how? Pastor Aaron Williams hit on it in his sermon on Sunday – a life that is well seasoned with scripture and prayer. Those are habits/commitments and not feelings, but how do I keep them? As Jesus said, “… but with God all things are possible.”

In fact, that’s what Perkins writes, “Things only get fixed – truly fixed – when they are mended by God through faith. Often we have it backward, trying to fix things for God rather than letting God fix things through us.” He further writes, “That’s it! God’s love and justice come together in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, and we can’t be about one and not the other. They’re inextricably connected.” There’s that scriptural/gospel connection I was seeking!

Next steps? I have to keep reading and thinking/praying. It’s what works for me. Relistening to Pastor Laurie’s sermon on “Social Righteousness” and Pastor Aaron’s from last Sunday. Both talked about righteousness being a relationship term. Some of you have a vision for this and can see it clearly. I’m not blessed with that; I can’t see that far down the road. However, I’m reminded of a quote attributed to J.P. Morgan – “Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you’ll be able to see farther.”
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