Fifty years ago today (28th August, 1963) Martin Luther King, a Christian minister committed to non-discrimination and non-violence, led a march of 250,000 people, three-quarters of whom were African-American, to Washington DC. There he shared his dream:-
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice and sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
In any account that we might give of the Christian Church, we must honestly acknowledge its failures. There have been occasions – too many occasions – when it has accepted the world’s values and priorities, and accommodated itself to the prevailing culture, and rationalised its own unfaithfulness.
Among its most notable failings we must mention:-
Its approval and even glamorisation of the medieval Crusades, when European knights rode forth to recover the holy places from Islam by force.
‘I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.’ (Thomas Jefferson)
‘Truth is justice’s handmaid; freedom is its child, peace is its companion; safety walks in its steps; victory follows in its train; it is the brightest emanation from the gospel; it is an attribute of God.’ (Sydney Smith)
Injustice, suave, erect, and unconfined, Sweeps the wide earth, and tramples o’er mankind, While prayers to heal her wrongs move slow behind. Homer
‘By largely ignoring the central biblical teaching that God is on the side of the poor, our theology has been profoundly unorthodox.…
Justice is often assumed to be the same as equality. We treat people with justice, it is argued, when we treat them equally.
But it’s not quite as simple as that. Even in a court of law, two criminals may have commited exactly the same crime, and yet each receive a different punishment, because the judges see that different circumstances and motives apply.
Similarly in the home. If two children are fighting, a parent may send them to their bedroom as a punishment. …
John Stott spells out one important aspect of ‘living under the cross’:-
The cross is a revelation of God’s justice as well as of his love. That is why the community of the cross should concern itself with social justice as well as with loving philanthropy. It is never enough to have pity on the victims of injustice, if we do nothing to change the unjust situation itself. Good Samaritans will always be needed to succour those who are assaulted and robbed; yet it would be even better to rid the Jerusalem-Jericho road of brigands.
I’ve been scratching my head about what it means to forgive and to be forgiven. We hear of people who, after having been terribly wronged, say, “I forgive that person.” We hear of others who say, “I can never forgive that person.” And what of the other person, the person who is considered to be ‘in the wrong’? Do they need to ‘accept’ the forgiveness in order for it to work? What of the person who refuses to believe that they are in the wrong? …