vindication

 1 Vindicate me, LORD,
for I have led a blameless life;
I have trusted in the LORD
and have not faltered.

This psalm is about living in the real world. The psalmist certainly would not claim sinless perfection. But in a certain way, or regarding some issue, they lived blamelessly in their limited sense. And the prayer for vindication, or God’s defense and approval of them, that such would be made known to all, seems indeed a legitimate prayer.

The problem with us is that we often want to vindicate ourselves. We want to prove to others that we are in the right, or that a certain character evaluation of us is unfair, or untrue. We do well to leave all of that in God’s hands, and to go our way, seeking to live in God’s good will in Jesus.

In the end it is Jesus who is vindicated, and all who are in him. We end up in this together. There is no competition. But during this difficult time in which our view is often hazy, and in which we know in part, as well as often struggle against sin, we need in God’s grace and working to see God’s hand at work, to see the good from God in each other. The beginning of vindication which is actually even now a gift in God’s grace in Jesus. Our only true vindication is found in him, though there may be gracious provisions of that along the way for humanity. God is a good Judge. And we can entrust ourselves completely to him in and through Jesus.

John Stott on a bigger gospel

It is the comprehensiveness of Paul’s message that is impressive. He proclaimed God in his fullness as Creator, Sustainer, Ruler, Father, and Judge. All this is part of the gospel, or, at least, the necessary prolegomena to the gospel. Many people are rejecting our gospel today, not because they perceive it to be false, but because they perceive it to be trivial. They are looking for an integrated worldview that makes sense of all their experience. We learn from Paul that we cannot preach the gospel of Jesus without the doctrine of God, or the cross without creation, or salvation without judgment, or vice-versa. Today’s world needs a bigger gospel, the full gospel of Scripture, what Paul later in Ephesians was to call “the entire plan of God” (Acts 20:27 NAB).

John Stott  (on Paul’s sermon in Athens, Acts 17)

John Stott, Through the Bible, Through the Year: Daily Reflections from Genesis to Revelation, 334 quoted by Christopher J.H. Wright, The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission (Biblical Theology for Life), 46.

what is just?

Justice is rightfully so, a big subject nowadays. It is called “social justice,” and indeed all justice has to do with society, with people in their relationships with each other.

We Christians, and perhaps in particular, we evangelical Christians seem to have a penchant for wanting to be “right.” Right on paper doesn’t mean that much though, in fact it means nothing if we don’t put into practice what we preach. Both orthodoxy as in right belief, and orthopraxy as in right practice are vital for us as followers of Jesus. But if push comes to shove, I’d much rather be a part of a group that emphasized practice, even if not making enough out of doctrine. We do need both, but I’ll take right practice every time, over supposedly getting everything right, which is not possible.

Micah 6:8 might help us here:

8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

We are told that we’re to act justly. And to love mercy. These must be joined: justice and mercy. Of course we see the epitome, indeed the climax of that at the cross of our Lord Jesus. Justice and mercy are joined there. Where mercy is absent, there is indeed no justice. Not the justice that God brings in shalom, and that is fulfilled in the kingdom come in Jesus.

And lastly we’re told that we’re to walk humbly with our God. We need God in the equation for justice. To help us make just and right decisions. And simply because justice is not only with reference to God’s law, will, instruction given. It is from and through God himself. God is Judge and King. In a way that brings salvation, no less. Sorting out what we can never sort out in and of ourselves.

This calling to what is good is fulfilled in Jesus, and begins to be worked out in the lives of all followers of Jesus. It is a justice that is first and foremost about love. And a love that is grounded in truth. About loving God and our neighbor through Jesus. Together, and for the world.