Generous Justice, class #9
Why Should We Do Justice? The Motivation of Creation
From Chapt. 5. Pg. 78-92a
People know they should do justice, yet remain unmotivated to actually perform and provide justice. (cr. James 2:15-17). Appeals to love, mercy, and reason just have not seemed to move people. Keller suggests that the same Bible that commands the moral imperative to show justice, also provides motivation to do justice. This lesson considers the motivation of creation. (Pg. 78-82).
Without creation, there is no difference between the human and the gnat. But with creation, especially of mankind in the image of God, a certain dignity of creation and of humankind is implied. (Pg. 82).
To “image” is to resemble, as in a mirror. Created in the image of God, all people have the dignity of the resemblance of God himself, as in rationality, personality, and the capability to give and receive love. (Gen. 1:26-27). (Pg. 83)
With creation there is a sacredness of life that is
imparted to humanity, Gen. 9:5-6, “for in his own image God has made man.”
James 3:9 rebukes the cursing of individuals based on people “having been made in the image of God.”
There is measurable worth in creation for it is loved by God (Psalm 145:8-9), even when creation turns away from him (Ezekiel 33:11 and John 3:16). (Pg. 83-84)
Illustration: Mount Vernon is a house like any other, but is honored above other houses because we treasure the owner, George Washington. “So we must treasure each and every human being as a way of showing due respect for the majesty of their owner and Creator.” (pg. 85)
Creation teaches us that “all men are created equal” and deserving, then of equitable civil rights. (Pg. 85-88) Creation teaches us that all belongs to God. We are stewards. Therefore, whatever our wealth, we should, as David observed “give generously.” (1 Chronicles 29:11-14). Quoting Bruce Waltke, “The righteous are willing to disadvantage themselves to advantage the community; the wicked are willing to disadvantage the community to advantage themselves.” (Pg. 90). Thus teachings on gleaning (Deut. 24:14, 17, 19). Refusal to share “isn’t just stinginess, it is injustice.” (pg. 91-92).
Generous Justice, class #10
Why Should We Do Justice? The Motivation of Grace
From Chapt. 5. Pg. 92b-108
This section is the middle of Keller’s book and is the center of his theme/argument which is, a proper understanding of grace will lead to justice. In the first paragraph of the first page of introductory text (pg. xiii) Keller proposed, “a true experience of the grace of Jesus Christ inevitably motivates a man or woman to seek justice in the world.” In the first sentence of this section headed “Responding to Grace (pg. 92b), Keller states, “the most frequently cited Biblical motivation for doing justice is the grace of God in redemption.”
The Sermon on the Mount with its “righteousness that exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees” (Mt. 5:20), and with the “You have heard…But I say to you” formula Jesus repeated, the law of the reign of Christ in our hearts is a more demanding law that the one inscribed on tablets. This is true to the point that no one, save Jesus, has lived up to the call of God. Therefore, the terrible cross was necessary for our salvation. As we rely on the gift of God for justification, again we are motivated to give good gifts in the name of God. (Pg. 100-101).
All of this Biblical motivation for doing justice based on the fact of God’s goodness to us, will have us not only doing just things for the poor, but will form in us a new attitude toward the poor. “When Christians who understand the gospel see a poor person, they realize they are looking into a mirror.” (Pg. 103). Likewise, “the gospel also changes the self-understanding of the poor person…it tells you that you count.” (Pg. 104-106).
Finally, Keller admits that “many who are evidently genuine Christians do not demonstrate much concern for the poor.” Yet, as Christians mature in their understanding of the grace, mercy, and provision of the Lord, our consciences are awakened to justice. Grace pushes our button to social awareness. “When justice for the poor is connected not to guilt but to grace and to the gospel, this ‘pushes the button’ down deep in believers’ souls.” (Pg. 107).