Archive for the tag “Mark Kelly”

That first Easter, God did justice for you

Mark Kelly writes at kainos:

All God’s creation was singing, shouting, and celebrating shalom — the perfect well-being and harmony that warms the soul like a sunbeam on a cool spring morning. And God said, “This is very good.”

But it didn’t last long. One bad choice — a decision to disrespect the Creator and selfishly indulge an appetite — and God’s good creation began spiraling down into brokenness and captivity. Shalom was destroyed. One generation after another multiplied the injustice. No one sought God. People cared only for themselves. The weak and helpless were bled dry by those strong enough to take what they wanted. The Father’s children were lost to him.

Almighty God would not tolerate the injustice. The Father’s heart was continually broken by the brokenness of his children, his anger mounted toward the one whispering rebellion to them. God warned he would not overlook the willfulness and oppression. He promised to send Someone who would break the chains and set the captives free. He would do justice — restore the shalom.

And when Messiah came, we enjoyed his stories about the Kingdom — then hated him for telling us the truth about our brokenness, selfishness, and captivity. We killed him for being the Truth.

The Almighty, however, is not one to relent or break a promise. In a dark grave, Light exploded. From death’s grip, Life broke free. The shroud fell away, and the world’s first truly free person stepped out of his tomb.

Resurrection Sunday was a divine act of Kingdom justice, and it did far more than revive Jesus’ soul. His physical being was healed. His circumstances were revolutionized. His relationships were filled with a power capable of infinitely more than any of us can ask or even imagine. True, complete reconciliation with God and with man was, by the Father’s grace, finally possible. As Jesus became, now we are becoming, day by day, and will — One Day — be!

The Almighty did justice for you in that moment. Cosmic justice. Ultimate justice. Jesus paid an awful price so you could be set free. You have been given new life and the Spirit continues to lift you toward salvation. You have at hand a holy book filled with the wisdom you need to walk in God’s ways and experience a life that is full, free, and forever. The Lord has provided you with brothers and sisters who can show you the better way to live, who can strengthen and encourage you as you walk together up the narrow road.

The grief of Good Friday and the joy of Easter Sunday call out to us. They beckon us to join Jesus in his mission of liberating the captives. They compel us to share abundant new life with souls trapped in living death, to bring light to slaves laboring in darkness. You can fight whatever injustice keeps them enslaved. You can show them the Lord’s way to make a place for themselves in this world, and the next.

You don’t have to look far to find someone whose heart is captivated with darkness. You are surrounded by broken souls who have no clue about walking in God’s ways. Everywhere you turn, the weak and helpless stumble under a heavy burden. The poor are sliding down toward destruction because they have no one to show them the better way. They are your brothers and sisters, desperate for family who will step up and show them how to live free.

The Lord, who did justice for you, requires you to do justice for them. When the Judge delivers his verdict on your life, he will weigh the evidence that you personally helped “the least of these.” A grateful heart would be headed there anyway.

This Easter — as you reflect on Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday — will you give yourself wholeheartedly to multiplying Kingdom justice? Will you obey the one who said, “As the Father sent me, so I am sending you”?

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Have you read God’s Revolution?

A better path to justice than liberalism and conservatism

mk_fbMark Kelly writes at kainos:

There is a better path to justice than relativistic liberalism and subjective conservatism can offer. Jesus’ values are not mere opinion, nor are they only revelation. Most liberal Christians wink knowingly and fall in behind the unbelieving culture. Most conservative evangelicals cry “Outrage!” at the compromises, but can’t prove how they know their own values are true. Conservative Christians keep looking to a Republican party whose elites are as liberal in their morals as the Democratic leadership. Followers of either party who claim Christ are being led down the primrose path toward a social collapse that will inevitably require the State to enforce order. In this world, anarchy is answered only by tyranny. …

Jesus calls on us to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. He requires us to help “the least of these.” He gives no impression that Caesar offers any hope for creating justice. Jesus speaks with the authority of the God of Abraham who requires his people to do justice, with the power of one raised by God from the dead to prove he told the Truth.

In the United States, we are witnessing the rapid degeneration of a society that will become increasingly hostile to the truth and values Jesus requires his disciples to declare. Many who claim Christ will slide off into the abyss with everyone else — both those who are trying to channel the culture and those who don’t understand Jesus well enough to know they should be loving their neighbors more than fighting a culture war.

Yes, the political issues are critical — government spending, abortion as birth control, same-sex marriage, religious liberty — and Christians on each “side” understand a crucial part of the truth. But no victory in the political arena will resolve any of those issues. The only path to justice — pressing toward God’s will on earth as it is in heaven — requires us to unapologetically declare Jesus’ message: that we all are broken, that God loves each of us, that only God’s grace can bring us healing, that the Kingdom is right under our noses — trust Jesus and he will give you new life!

We don’t need to become relevant; the Gospel is already relevant. We don’t need to condemn a sinful society; it is already condemned. What we need to be doing is proclaiming — and living out — the full, free, and forever life only Jesus can give.

It’s no mystery, folks: Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself. Help the least of these. Seek the Kingdom first and foremost. Make disciples.  When the branches bear much fruit, the Vine receives the glory he deserves.

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Launch a justice revolution in your community

justice

Mark Kelly writes at kainos:

… We are not bound to give money to every panhandler on the street or beggar at the door. Our help should not hurt, and most of the time our good hearts urge us to precisely the wrong thing. …

In the same vein, we are not called as the Church to provide a comprehensive social welfare system for our country. … The churches as they are today spiritually, simply are not up to the challenge of miraculous signs and wonders. Faced with a crowd of 5,000 hungry men, plus women and children, most churches would say, “We have some Rice-A-Roni in the pantry, but what is that among so many?”

While we are not bound to provide for all the poor of our town or country, we are absolutely bound to provide assistance for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are in need, whether they are in our own congregation or halfway around the world. If I read Matthew 25 correctly, we are bound to love one another at a very high level. Jesus gave his disciples a “new commandment”  – “Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.”

Given the fact Jesus said this just hours before he would be tortured to death for the sins of the world, I’d say he set a very high standard for us in loving our brothers and sisters in Christ.

None of this, however, lets any believer off the hook for helping the poor and oppressed who are not in Christ. Acts 10:38, reminds us that when God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and with power, Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the Devil. Our call as his followers is to bring God’s justice and healing to people in need, regardless of whether they believe.

Helping people in need is a powerful witness to the love of Christ that transforms us from greedy self-absorbed individuals into the hands and feet of Jesus among the hungry, sick, and imprisoned. I doubt it was a coincidence that as the church in Jerusalem provided for its widows with a daily distribution of food, the number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem as well. (Acts 6:1-7)

… God’s people can launch a justice revolution in their community by demonstrating Jesus’ kind of self-sacrificing love for their own needy brothers and sisters. … When we make common cause with leaders of other sectors in society, very powerful alliances can be built that are capable of fundamentally realigning even entire countries toward justice.

Ignoring the cries of the poor and oppressed offends God and put us (as it did with Israel) in danger of exile and captivity, but it also deprives us of the joy that comes with seeing God work miracles through his people. Remember: “By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.” (Ephesians 3:20 NLT)

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