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6 & 7 November 2021 (Pastoral Page) JUSTICE, MERCY AND THE CHURCH

By Asst Ps Lai Keet Keong

Romans 9:13-15

Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

We serve a God who is both just and merciful. God’s justice demanded a sacrifice for the sins of the world. Hebrews 9:22 says without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins. Without forgiveness, there is no redemption and reconciliation. God’s mercy sent His only begotten son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to shed His blood for the wages of sin. Christ Himself was sinless (2 Corinthians 5:21), but He died for the sins of the world. Because sinful man can never hope to pay the price of sin by ourselves.

The Good Neighbours Initiative encapsulate our commitment, as a Church, to Christ’s command in Luke 10:37, where Jesus said, “Go and do likewise”, to be good neighbours to the last, lost and least in our community. This is a mission of mercy. Through this initiative, we desire to bring a measure of hope to those who struggle with basic needs, like the safety of a home environment, comfort of a reasonable meal, and the dignity of humans loved and cherished by God our creator.

In the book, Christian Faith, Justice, and a Politics of Mercy, the author, James E. Gilman, wrote: “In an unjust world, justice cannot establish itself, but requires, in public as well as private life, projects of merciful benevolence. Mercy alone has the power to subvert patterns of injustice, and mercy and projects of benevolence are tailored to establish and sustain patterns of justice.”

Who are our neighbours? They include:

  • Those who cannot speak for themselves, the destitute, the poor and needy (Proverbs 31:8-9)

  • Those who have been robbed, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows (Jeremiah 22:3)

  • The oppressed, the hungry, the prisoners, the blind, those who are bowed down, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows (Psalms 146:7-9)

Why are they our neighbours? Because they walk and work in our community. God placed them in our community, and we in theirs, so that the light of Christ in us may shine out from the darkness (Isaiah 58:10). Then places of darkness will be as bright as noon!

My dear friends, when we care for our precious neighbours through combined or personal efforts of The Good Neighbours Initiative, remember that:

1. They do not need to deserve our acts of kindness. In other words, it does not matter whether we think they deserve our service or not. It does not matter even if we feel that some of them have made wrong decisions in life. Remember that we too did not deserve God’s mercy for our sins, yet God freely gave us His grace. Matthew 10:8 said, “Freely you have received, freely give.”

2. We are saved to be a blessing. We are freed from bondages of sin so that we may choose to serve God and love our neighbours (Galatians 5:13-14). This is the spirit of the law, and a command from our loving God! This is especially urgent and relevant in the light of the pandemic that affected so many lives and homes economically, psycho-emotionally and relationally. As God has blessed us, let us be willing to bless others in times of need.

3. We are not accumulating merits for ourselves in this world. Instead, Luke 6:35 tell us that our reward will be great in heaven. And the greatest reward is to honor and please our God who loves us so much! For He alone is our very great reward (Genesis 15:1).

4. We should focus on God as He is the one whom you obey. When you serve, some people may take advantage of you. You may not be appreciated in return. During those times, remember it is God whom you serve (Matthew 25:45). He knows your heart, sees your obedience and remembers your service. Focus on God who called us in this journey of discipleship.

Today, the church is as relevant as our expressions of mercy and justice. We are called to live out God’s Word in our lives, to live beyond the content of an isolated world of our own studies, or a mediocre life of worldly pleasures. May we be encouraged, and challenged, that those who show mercy are blessed, for they shall receive mercy.

James 2:12-13

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

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