The God Who Justifies

The God Who Justifies… “… the God who justifies expects all people to do justice.” (The Church in Society: A Lutheran Perspective). In the latter half of this summer a group of people have been meeting at Grace to discuss a book entitled, The Forgotten Luther, Reclaiming the Social-Economic Dimension of the Reformation. The book is a collection of talks delivered in November of 2015 at the Church of the Reformation in Washington DC. While participating in this study I found myself going back to review some of the social statements that have been produced by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America since it was formed in 1987. I am reminded that as the children of God who follow Jesus we are called by word and deed to make real the kingdom of God for all people. The words of the ancient prophet Micah reverberate in my mind: He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8) How do we live out this calling to do justice? One of the contributors to the above mentioned book, Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, points out that our sinful human nature is to turn inward upon ourselves. A disturbing reality is that we can have faith in Christ and turn it inward so that our singular focus becomes having a relationship with Jesus. At the time of the Reformation, Luther challenged the notion that the task and duty of being a Christian was to earn salvation. The disturbing reality of the day was that the vast majority of the economy of the Church was about aiding people in earning their salvation. When Luther declared that God and not human works makes us righteous he radically changed the focus of the Church and the purpose of what it means to live out a Christian life. Rather than focusing inward people of God are called upon to do justice in the world. Yet the noble cause of doing justice is indeed easier said than done. In our modern age the Christian Church flounders, and in many ways again is turning inward as we seek institutional survival or measure our worth by how successful we can be by some set of numeric goals. This turning inward blinds us to the needs of the world around us. We become blind to the pains of social and economic injustice or the environmental issues that make toxic our air, land and water. Too often we measure the quality of our lives in terms of what makes us happy rather than considering the needs and issues of others. August, 2017 August, 2017 Grace Notes is also available online at www.gracelc.org/news/grace-notes Page 2 How do we live out this calling of justice? It begins in our own lives by examining how we might make better the lives of others around us. How do we be better family members for the sake of those we love; how do we become better neighbors to those who live around us? What actions can you personally take to make a situation better? When the scale of need is too great to address alone, looking for ways to gather with others can indeed make a difference. This is how the churches of Westminster came together to meet the immediate needs of hunger in our community providing between 35,000-40,000 meals every year so that people can have at least one good meal every day. This is how the Lutheran churches in the Westminster area were able to come together and build Carroll Lutheran Village to provide excellent and safe housing for the elderly. Churches coming together to meet the needs of the hungry throughout the world, provide aid in meeting the needs of refugees and advocating for those living under tyranny and oppression. How do we live out this calling of justice? We begin by recognizing the needs of others and acknowledging that their need is our calling to serve. It is also important to remember that the management of personal resources are important for more than addressing all our personal wants and desires but to aid others in need. We live out this calling of justice by recognizing that human pain and suffering is real and we are the ones called to ease that pain. The miracle of faith is found in discovering how much we can really do when we turn outward to see the world and hear the voices of others and thereby discover just how we can do justice, love, kindness and walk humbly with our God.