A Hope for Our Cities

God’s throne, or Kingdom, is established on the foundation of both personal “rightness” with God and personal “rightness” with others.

In the wake of recent decisions by grand jury’s in Missouri and New York to not indict police officers involved in the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, cries, pleas and demands for justice are echoing throughout the nation. These recent events are not the sole reasons for these lamentations. They add volume to an already unbearable burden of frustration and anger stemming from documented and empirically proven daily acts of injustice. Amidst it all, what does the Gospel of Jesus Christ say and what does He do?

Rev. Richard Coleman
Rev. Richard Coleman

What do followers of Jesus do as burdened, besieged and desperate people look for help? What do we do when our children cry “No justice…no peace?” The chant gives voice to the belief that there can be no peace among people until there is justice. The Biblical truth from which this popular cry arises is found in Isaiah 32:12-17 and should not be parsed from the truth that peace, Shalom, will not exist where people reject the means by which our Creator establishes righteousness—the sacrificial gift of His Son, Jesus Christ.

There is no justice and can be no peace with God if there is not first the gift of forgiveness afforded by the Father through His Son.

Leaders of the early Church faced unspeakably horrible treatment from the world’s powers. When the converted Saul of Tarsus turned from those powers and embraced the power of the Holy Spirit and the unpopular call to serve non-Jews, he became persecuted. Knowing that his salvation was not secured by his natural birthright as a Jew, he understood that regardless of ethnic or social differences, followers of Jesus Christ must adhere to specific personal and social responsibilities. For Paul, the hope of the world was the unifying work of God through reconciled people, and it is that same hope for us today. We see his faith in the following passage.

“And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’ For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:18-21 (NLT).

Paul’s instruction reflects the Old Testament prioritization of righteousness and justice as highlighted in Psalm 89:14: “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Unfailing love and truth walk before you as attendants.”

The gospel of the Kingdom of heaven invites each human being to be restored by grace to his/her Creator (personal salvation) and to a community of moral and ethical rightness established and secured by processes and systems that ensure justice (the ministry of reconciliation). God’s throne, or Kingdom, is established on the foundation of both personal “rightness” with God and personal “rightness with others.” But, there is no justice and can be no peace with God if there is not first the gift of forgiveness afforded by the Father through His Son.

In light of this, hear the chant again: “No justice…no peace.” As we have obtained salvation by faith in Jesus’ atonement, let us live peacefully in relationship with those who have been “others.” In the strength of the love Jesus proved in laying down His life, each of us must be right with our God and our brothers and sisters. We must also do justice. Do the right thing as Christ has shown us.

Many of us are focused on building bridges and relationships that are fostering hope. Together we win as we move together with hope.

By Rev. Richard H. Coleman

This article first appeared at www.hopeunitedcdc.org.


January 19, 2015

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