The Promise of Justice

Scripture Focus: Psalm 49.5-8; 15
5 Why should I fear when evil days come, 
when wicked deceivers surround me— 
6 those who trust in their wealth 
and boast of their great riches? 
7 No one can redeem the life of another 
or give to God a ransom for them— 
8 the ransom for a life is costly, 
no payment is ever enough— 

15 But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; 
he will surely take me to himself. 

Reflection: The Promise of Justice
By John Tillman

The Bible is the most grounded and realistic of holy texts. Scripture doesn’t blink when things go bad. It weeps. Biblical authors don’t shy from distressing realities. Cries for justice ring out in every book.

Modern people deceive ourselves that evil is only a disagreement about mutual benefits. The Bible knows that evil is real and people both cause and suffer from it.

Complaints and cries for justice come from an awareness of its lack. Deep down humans know a moral standard exists. Those who deny moral absolutes cannot show that they lack anything. Without a moral ideal, no complaint regarding justice can be made. Without some measure of wrongness there is no reason to expect goodness. How can a world with no absolutes be upset about evil? So you suffered or were harmed… Well, what did you expect? Who promised you something else?

Only amidst the Bible’s moral absolutes, do we find a promise of justice.

We know, soul deep and sinew deep, that sin exists. This is what it means to have partaken of the fruit. We KNOW evil. It looks good and tastes sweet but soon, it cramps us up, doubling us over. The knowledge of good and evil sickens our stomachs and rumbles through our guts. We soil ourselves with it and the runoff soils the earth, awakening Death.

The psalmist pulls no punches about death, the greatest evil of all. Death is the last enemy to be defeated. (Even though he has already lost.) Death treats rich and poor with perfect and efficient equity, yet every death is unjust to the Lord of life.

We work whatever justice we can on earth, but when death comes, human justice is insufficient. We cannot restore or repay, even with our lives, the loss of a victim of murder, cancer, starvation, Covid, or any other cause. But just as evil exists, righteousness does too. Whatever meager form of justice humans offer, Christ’s justice is incomparably greater.

Death’s victims need not stay in his grasp. Death’s grasping arms were broken in a wrestling match lost at the cross. Christ kicked in Death’s doors, opening the pathway to life for all who believe.

Like Old Testament sacrifices, human justice is not meaningless and we must enact it, but it is a mere shadow of the justice wrought by Christ. We do justice, as we do all else, in remembrance of His promise.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
For one day in your courts is better than a thousand in my own room, and to stand at the threshold of the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of the wicked. — Psalm 84.9

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Numbers 12-13 (Listen – 5:53) 
Psalm 49 (Listen – 2:10)

Read more about Justice Starts Within
Justice starts within. It doesn’t stop there. May we answer the call…shining a light of justice and truth.

Read more about Christ the Enemy of Death
Death is God’s enemy because it harms and hurts his children..He has defeated them both on the cross…Christ is the deadly enemy of death.

Ever Present Help

Psalm 46.1
God is our refuge and strength,
   an ever-present help in trouble.

Reflection: Ever Present Help
By John Tillman

The “ever-present” help that most people are used to, is the technology platforms we have attached to our hands and wrists.

These platforms were designed for profit. That profitability hinges on addiction and ubiquity. To continue their financial growth curve, the most powerful corporations ever to exist on the planet must make their products increasingly addictive and ingrained in our day to day life. Technology, it seems, is a jealous god.

In an article for the New Yorker, Jia Tolentino wrote about the difficulties of putting down one’s phone, when it is filled with technologies that, from the start, were designed to keep us from doing so:

“Sean Parker, the first president of Facebook, has called the platform a “social-validation feedback loop” built around “exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.” Tristan Harris, who worked as a “design ethicist” at Google, has said that smartphones are engineered to be addictive.

Technology promises freedom of movement and ease of work, but, more often than not technology chains our hands to a borderless, invasive, all-encompassing workday that never ends. Workers clock in, but they can’t clock out.

Technology promises emotional fulfillment and freedom of expression, but often we find ourselves chained to the emotional highs and lows of reactions, comments, and likes on social media. All of this is numbing to the connection and community that we truly need.

The technology that we have designed to help us connect has had disastrous, unexpected consequences. Our world is one of shattered relationships and loneliness despite more “connectedness” than ever.

We aren’t the first to think this. In a recent interview with Kris Boyd on Think, author, Jenny Odell, discussed how 400 years before the time of Christ, Epicurus started a garden school outside the city because he thought life in the Greek empire was becoming too hectic and people were disconnected from what was important.

The solution of cultivation, retreat, and pursuit of community is one we can apply toward our spiritual pursuits. Walking in a park is the key metaphor we use to refer to exploring God’s word, and cultivation is how we picture the growth of the seed of the gospel in our lives.

Technology is capable of aiding us in these things. May we use technology to tie God’s Word on our hands and integrate it into our lives. The Park Forum is dedicated to encouraging this kind of usage. For in connection to the gospel, we find freedom, fulfillment, and community that technology can’t deliver.

Prayer: The Request for Presence
I call with my whole heart; answer me, O Lord, that I may keep your statutes. — Psalm 119.145

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Numbers 10 (Listen – 4:11) 
Psalm 46-47 (Listen – 2:15)

Today’s Readings
Numbers 11 (Listen – 5:22) Psalm 48 (Listen – 1:28)
Numbers 12 (Listen – 2:12) Psalm 49 (Listen – 2:10)

Thank You!
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Read more about Where Our Hearts Are
Our devices can be tools to lead us to God’s heart, not away from it. This ministry’s mission believes in that. But there is danger.

Read more about A Restoring Sabbath
Think and pray about ways in which you can abstain from technology’s addictive elements, while still using its powerful tools to spur your spiritual growth.

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