Each sermon is published in large print for use in preaching, and for easy reading by several people gathered around the computer monitor.
TRUE LOVE AND COMPASSION WILL ALWAYS LEAD TO JUSTICE
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
7 JANUARY 1990
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
2 Corinthians 10:1-7
Preparation Verse: (Micah 6:8)
He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?
The title of today's sermon is “True Love and Compassion Will Always Lead to Justice.”
When we hear the word “justice” we usually think of either peace or getting even.
And we are hearing about both of these in Eastern Europe at this very time. People are saying that they now have peace and justice, for they will no longer have to live under an authoritarian power; but at the same time they cry out for justice to punish the wrong doers, even unto death.
In our society we look at justice in the same light, maybe not with the dramatic impact that we are seeing in Europe, but nevertheless, in the same way.
And there is also much unrest in many other countries around the world, where much of it is filled with injustice, and then there are the animals upon whom the human race has inflicted some of the most unjust treatment.
And I propose to you, that in our present time there cannot be true love, compassion, justice or peace, without there also being war.
This may seem like a strange statement coming from a peacemaker like me, but in order to understand it, we need to look deeper into its meaning.
Therefore, I also propose that this kind of war cannot be fought with the usual kind of weapons and the usual kind of warlords leading it.
Do you remember what we are told in Matthew 24:6-8 about war and the end times?
6. "And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.
7. "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.
8. "But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.
So, if we are talking about wars that are not of the usual kind, what kind are we talking about?
Listen to what the apostle Paul says about this kind of war, in 2 Corinthians 10:1-7, when he was being attacked by some within the church:
1. Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ – I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent!
Hear how Paul leads into this “war.” He begins by talking about the meekness of Jesus Christ.
2. I ask that when I am present I may not be bold with the confidence with which I propose to be courageous against some, who regard us as if we walked according to the flesh.
Do you hear what Paul is praying? We all make a mistake of not entering into a situation that is potentially confrontational with this kind of prayer:
"Lord, help me to remain meek as you are meek, so that my anger will not come out with boldness; but let me be bold in my meekness, so that I may win the battle."
Let’s continue with what Paul wrote:
3. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh,
4. for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.
Do you see what I mean about fighting wars without the usual kinds of weapons?
These spiritual weapons are really more powerful, if we would only trust in God enough to use them.
But if we do use them, we will see even greater results than we could ever
see with conventional weapons.
5. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,
6. and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.
For if we fail to fight in the obedience of Christ, we will be punished because we will also be disobedient; but if we are obedient, we will win.
Some people, however, see only the physical side of conflicts.
7. You are looking at things as they are outwardly. If anyone is confident in himself that he is Christ's, let him consider this again within himself, that just as he is Christ's, so also are we.
Now let's look at this from a practical standpoint.
In his book Evangelism: Doing Justice and Preaching Grace, Harvie M. Conn says about Jesus Christ, "The War Lord of the universe did not enter Jerusalem on a charger but on a Donkey."
Hear how the prophet Zechariah put it in 9:9 –
9. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
He is just and endowed with salvation,
Humble, and mounted on a donkey,
Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
He showed the world that the greatest power in the universe can be meek and humble, and yet win the greatest battle; for He met arrogance with justice, and many people responded, even to this very day.
And Conn adds:
"And He gives to His people for rule, not a scepter, but a towel."
He showed the disciples and us that real power and authority does not need to exalt itself, but can gain more followers by setting the proper example, as we are told in John 13:12-15.
12. And so when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments, and reclined at the table again, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you?
13. "You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am.
14. "If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, wash your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.
15. "For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.
What Jesus is telling us is that "the power of Rome is destroyed not by war, but by the phrase 'Jesus is Lord.' "
"Our weapons against social injustice, government corruption, racial slur, ... ghetto hatred," substance abuse, pornography, and child abuse, “are the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control....” (Galatians 5:22-23)
In this country we have said that we have a war on poverty, yet we still have poverty and homelessness.
We have said that we have a war on drugs, yet there are drugs sold in almost every town and village in our nation.
And the reason we are not winning the war is that we are fighting with the wrong weapons.
You don't need big bureaucratic machinery to stop poverty, for it doesn't work. What we need are caring communities that are willing to provide food, clothing and shelter in the name of Jesus Christ, so that they might grow out of their problems, become members of the community of faith, and one day be able to assist someone else.
Even better, it the food is also compassionate plant food, then we add the true sense of peace for the whole of God’s creation.
And we don't need bigger guns to fight drugs and alcohol. What we need is to give those abusers true Christian love, with no strings attached, and be there to fill the voids in their lives, so that they also might come to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
The First Baptist Church of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, has a halfway house for prison parolees; and one day one of the parolees was sitting in the living room, and the three year old daughter of the director crawled up on his lap, put her arms around his neck, and gave him a hug.
With tears rolling down his cheeks this man in his mid-thirties who had spent every year in reform school or prison since his mid-teens said, "You know, this is the first time I can remember anybody touching me in love."
Perhaps if someone had, he would not have spent all that time behind bars.
A few weeks later that man accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.
Or perhaps we could be like Jack Miller and his friends who went to Uganda after the reign of Idi Amin and found the city of Kampala overflowing with garbage.
They asked themselves, "What can we do to dramatize God's love for the city and our willingness to serve in humility?"
And the answer they got was "garbage evangelism."
They went to the Minister of Health, who couldn't believe what they were asking him, and offered to help clean up the city. And when he asked, "Why?" They answered only "Jesus!"
Out of the 150 trucks, only 2 were working; yet they didn't give up, but set out to do what they could.
As they were cleaning, they proclaimed, "Jesus is the answer." They sang gospel songs as they worked, and on their breaks they preached the gospel message around the piles of garbage.
Everyone wondered why they were doing what they were doing, and wanted to know if they belonged to a particular political party. They answered, "Yes, we're citizens of the kingdom of God."
And people came to Christ and began working for a better way of life.
We can make a difference if we truly want to.
And have you noticed that in each of these cases, the deed preceded the word?
Jesus rode on the donkey before he told the people why.
Jesus washed the disciples' feet before he told them to do the same.
The First Baptist Church invited that man in, before he experienced true love and came to Christ.
And Jack and his friends began cleaning before they spread the word.
This is what it means to be a Christian, but in the process, we cannot limit our love and compassion; it must extend to the whole of creation (every other human being, every animal, and the world that we all live in).
Jesus Christ has challenged each and every one of us to be like this.
Do we have the strength to do it?
Do we have the willingness to do it?
And do we have the guts to do it?
This is what it takes to truly have Communion with the Lord.