I often find myself thinking: “Am I getting this stuff right?” As someone who works as a pastor helping to lead the church for the work of the Gospel I often wonder this thought. Not for fear of getting something wrong and being squashed by the school yard bully version of God that is often embraced, but because I care about people actually following Jesus.
I want to make sure that whatever I am communicating verbally and nonverbally to people about Jesus and His Kingdom are the things that Jesus would affirm. So when I ask the question: “am I getting this stuff right?” it is not at all about my rightness, but about people seeing the goodness of the Kingdom and of Jesus and wanting to be a part of the same thing that I am a part of.
Recently as I was reading Matthew’s account of the life of Jesus something jumped out at me, something Jesus said referenced from Isaiah’s prophesy long before He hit the scene in the flesh. Jesus highlighting something really important about Himself restated for all the folks following him:
Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
2 He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
3 a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
4 He will not grow faint or be discouraged
till he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his law. (Isaiah 42:1-4, ESV)
The justice that Jesus brings comes from a posture of love, peace and patience. For a long time I was a part of many types of expressions of the church that were not truly about these things. In fact I think it was their concern for rightness that got them into a lot of trouble, kind of like these guys that Jesus had a problem with while He was here in the flesh.
The Pharisees were these guys who really were concerned about their rightness. So much so that they forgot that any level of rightness they had was about giving people a picture of who God is/ was. See whereas Jesus is the guy who comes into the fold and speaks to the heart, the pharisees are the guys who shouted with loud obnoxious voices. Whereas Jesus is the one who calls us to himself, the pharisees were often shoving people into religion.
Love is not just the mushy stuff. Love sometimes is a hard action but full of grace. Jesus often exercised this type of love to people. He would not shy back from saying what needed to be said or telling someone what was what, but He always did so with a heart that desired to see people follow him.
What I see coming from the passage is Jesus coming to bring justice, and that justice is a rule of love that they so desperately needed. It is not the type of justice we often associate with Jesus. We think Jesus is the heavy who comes in and is going to strike down all those sinners (people who don’t think like me), and deliver me from their disbelief.
The problem is what we are called to in the kingdom of God is to confront this disbelief with love, and bring justice into their lives. A justice that I think releases them from sin, and provides opportunity to walk in the liberty of the Kingdom. This is a better justice. It is a bigger justice. It is a justice that isn’t about us, but is about something bigger.
So when I think about getting it right or not, I want to know that I am declaring freedom to the captives, and loving people enough for them to see the lack of justice that exists in their lives and then run to Jesus because he is the one who establishes it.