Tag Archives: Tim Keller

James on Justice (An Appeal for Classless Christianity) James 1:9-11

classism image 2

I’m doing a commentary through James’ Epistle with an emphasis on justice and the kind of Christianity that sees everyone the same––a classless Christianity. I put the highlights here in the blog and then unpack it in my podcast.

James 1:9-11 is the key passage for this episode/post:

Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business. (NIV)

“Any of God’s people who are poor should be glad that he thinks so highly of them. But any of the rich should be glad when he makes them humble.” (CEV)

James learned Classless Christianity from his ½ Brother, Jesus, the King of the upside down kingdom, and Master of the counterintuitive…

God is partial to the poor in the same way that firefighters are “partial” to houses on fire…

In the world, some are disdained and others acclaimed for their socioeconomic station, but for us those distinctions are irrelevant. Christ annihilates classism… Continue reading

Widows? Which Widows?

 

Afghan War WidowsWe Christians are people-helpers. It’s in the Spirit-loaded software at new birth. Problem is, we often insist on preserving the right to be selective about the recipients of our aid, as though there’s some substantive difference between one kind of human and another. The earliest Christians discovered this tendency in themselves and made the necessary adjustments. Seems like we could benefit from a reminder to do the same.

During this time, as the disciples were increasing in numbers by leaps and bounds, hard feelings developed among the Greek-speaking believers—“Hellenists”—toward the Hebrew-speaking believers because their widows were being discriminated against in the daily food lines. So the Twelve called a meeting of the disciples. They said, “It wouldn’t be right for us to abandon our responsibilities for preaching and teaching the Word of God to help with the care of the poor. So, friends, choose seven men from among you whom everyone trusts, men full of the Holy Spirit and good sense, and we’ll assign them this task. Meanwhile, we’ll stick to our assigned tasks of prayer and speaking God’s Word.”

The congregation thought this was a great idea. They went ahead and chose—

Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, Nicolas, a convert from Antioch.

Then they presented them to the apostles. Praying, the apostles laid on hands and commissioned them for their task.

The Word of God prospered. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased dramatically. Not least, a great many priests submitted themselves to the faith. Acts 6:1-7 (The Message)

There’s wasn’t simply an administrative problem that was fixed with a more efficient distribution of food for widows. There was a cultural prejudice at play. The first Christians, most of whom were Jews, wrestled with whether or not to accept the non-Jews into the Church as equals. Though outnumbered by their Roman oppressors, in the Church, Jews held the status of the majority culture. Continue reading

Social Justice = Social Gospel?

 

social_justice_sliderA certain radio talk show host made the audacious plea to his audience to leave their church if it used such profane watchwords such as, “social justice.”

“I beg you, look for the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!”

He went on to say that social justice is political code for communism and Nazism: “Communists are on the left, and the Nazis are on the right. That’s what people say. But they both subscribe to one philosophy, and they flew one banner … But on each banner, read the words, here in America: ‘social justice.’” Continue reading

Humanizing the Dehumanized & Mutualizing the Marginalized

king-quoteHumanizing the Dehumanized…

For a number of posts now the topic has surrounded “Reaching Rahabs,” the prostituted citizens of our own Jerichos. The question now is, how do we treat the dehumanized and marginalized?

Greed appeals to sex for sale          

At her expense, it mirrors hell

A grave inside a human’s mind

They lock the doors and close the blinds

A human life is thrown in a cage

Raped until death, then thrown away

Deeds in the dark the light reveals

And judgment comes when the blood is spilled

They even changed her name

They even changed her name

They even changed her name

Continue reading

“What should we do?” (Part 2 of 3)

what-should-we-doWe’re talking about how John the Baptizer sized up the legitimacy of one’s repentance. Hip deep in the river he preached, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance!” When three different groups of people came for baptism John gave each of them a litmus test to assess whether or not they’re ready for Messiah’s kingship.

First, he commanded the religious experts to share their food and clothing with the poor. Next, as a bunch of tax collectors came for a spiritual dunking from the camel-skin-donning, bug-eating prophet, they asked, “What shall we do?” John answered these candidates, “Don’t collect (taxes) any more than you are required to!”

This was big since these were people who worked for the occupying Roman oppressors collecting taxes from their own people. Worse than that, these shyster employees of an evil state typically extorted additional cash for their own use! They had their own neighbors by the throat. If they refused to pay, they would have to answer to Big Brother Rome. As much as the Jews hated Romans, they detested their sell out brothers more.

John’s message to us is…

If we have leverage, we are required to use it for the advantage of those who lack it.

Continue reading

“Black and Blue” Lives Matter

black-blue-lives-matter-cartoon-598There’s a bunch of stuff that doesn’t matter, like arguing about one another’s mottos about what matters!

Just so you know, I’m pretty sure that it’s my life that actually matters most! Okay, I’m willing to concede that everyone who looks like me and agrees with me matter too––somewhat.

Of course, we also stand for the officers who are serving their communities faithfully and with equanimity. Saying “black lives matter” is not choosing sides against law enforcement. It’s not saying that all cops are bad any more than it’s saying that all blacks are good.

It’s a contextualized statement, like saying “Children’s Lives Matter.” That doesn’t mean adult lives don’t matter! In Hitler’s Germany precious few courageous souls stood and said in effect, “Jewish Lives Matter!” [Before you rush to the reply button, I intend no precise correlation between German Nazism and American racism.] Nevertheless, racism is racism.

Nobody in their right mind believes that it’s “only” black lives––or blue ones, for that matter––that actually matter. In a semi-literate society we really shouldn’t have to explain that the dictum simply means that black lives matter too!

For clarity sake, this “too” isn’t the same as the other two “to’s” in our language. Though this too has two meanings, as in “too much” and “me too,” the former meaning being the one implied by the “Black Lives Matter (too)” movement.

So we should not be confused by the assumption that black folks only matter “to” us, or that there are only “two” of them or us that matter. Those are those other pesky two to’s. The “too” that we’re trying to clarify is the one that means also, the one we shouldn’t need to need in order to make it redundantly obvious that we don’t mean they’re the only ones that matter.

If all that seems too convoluted, I recommend just reverting back to me being the one who matters (most). Continue reading

How do we get “prosperity” (shalom)?

jeremiah-29-11-web1To refresh our memories, God deported the Jews to Babylon for a lifetime (70 years). This prosperity preacher’s opus (Jeremiah 29:11) is part (only part) of the letter to the exiles that he inspired Jeremiah to write.

If you’ll look at the entire letter you’ll see that just four verses before he commanded them to:

“Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” 

Again, though the NIV uses the word “prosper,” (three times!) in each case God used the Hebrew term rife with meaning, “shalom,” which means something much more and much better than personal prosperity. Oh, and when the translators of the NIV rendered it, “Seek peace and prosperity,” they’re translating one word, “shalom,” into those two words. The verse actually says, “Seek the shalom of the city… because if it has shalom you too will have shalom.” Continue reading