21st July 2020
'to racism and discrimination'
We have heard a lot about racism and discrimination in the news recently.
I have just been listening to the story of an Asian lady on the radio.
She applied for a job for which she was highly qualified.
A rejection came in the post a few days later
(I suppose you could say she was lucky to receive a reply, so many don't).
She decided to re-apply substituting an English sounding name for her own
and received a letter asking her to take part in an on-line interview.
She once more applied for the job using the name of another Asian friend;
once more she had a letter of rejection.
In spite of all to denials to the contrary
it seems racisms in all areas is endemic in this country.
Jesus speaks out strongly against racism and injustice.
In Matthew 22:37-40 we hear Jesus answer the Pharisees' question
of what is the greatest commandment,
his response masterfully connected the two commandments
that flow naturally into one another.
37 Jesus replied:
" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'
38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
39 And the second is like it:
'Love your neighbour as yourself.'
40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
Our love of God compels us to love our neighbour.
Jesus emphasises the importance of these truths
by saying that both these commandments are the hinge
on which the Law (the writings of Moses) and the Prophets hang.
To fully understand Jesus' words we need to look to the past.
The prophet Micah sets it out succinctly:
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice,
and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (6:8)
Micah speaks out on behalf of two types of people;
those who are in poverty and those on the margins of society.
Micah is dealing with both racism and social classism,
both of which are offensive to God.
Micah responds by calling the people of God (and us today)
to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God.
The Hebrew word for justice is 'mishpat'
and it deals with legal decisions.
This speaks of having organisations and societies
that reflect the righteous justice of God.
As a people who have experienced extravagant and undeserved mercy,
we should extend extravagant mercy to others,
even if it is undeserved.
Here is an image of walking intimately hand in hand with a father.
As a child, when we walk in the shadow of our parents,
hand in hand, we live and act as a result of that humility.
Jesus teaches us that these three characteristics mentioned in Micah 6:8
should be embodied and reflected in the lives of Christians
as we relate to our neighbours.
Who is our neighbour?
All of humanity!
Jesus made this clear in his story of the Good Samaritan.
As his followers,
we love God and we're sent out to love our neighbours
to be a reflection of the love, mercy and justice of God.
This is what is referred to as the 'Law of love'.
Jesus is telling his people, today, to do justice,
love mercy and all humanity and walk humbly with him.
Will we listen to his voice and instruction?