I know the Cowboys are really rolling right now. The offensive line is imposing its will and mowing people down, Murray and all the backs are running with authority, Romo is having the greatest year of his career, Dez looks unstoppable, and the defense is flying around the ball with abandon on every play. Today the Cowboys look really, really good. But I’m sticking with my preseason prediction of 6-10.
“Stop doing wrong, learn to do right!
Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.
Defend the cause of the fatherless,
plead the case of the widow.”
We understand the biblical concept of justice to be about reversing the curse. We see it as leaning into God’s promised future, a mostly “back to the future” promise that our Lord is redeeming and restoring all of creation to be like it was in the very beginning, and working to bring it about. So we feed the hungry because there is no hunger in heaven. We clothe the needy and house the homeless because there is no poverty in heaven. We live in peace with others because there is no violence in heaven. We love and sacrifice and serve to lift up the hopeless and protect the defenseless because that is the way of our Father.
At Central, this seeking justice takes many forms. Among them, the community Christmas lunch we hosted here on Saturday for all the men, women, and children who live in our downtrodden downtown neighborhoods. Around 70 volunteers served a hot Christmas lunch to more than 400 members of our community. Four worship leaders from four different churches — with our own Kevin Schaffer out front — provided the Christmas/worship music. We shared Christmas stories and traditions, we told Santa Claus what we wanted, we passed out hand-sewn emergency kits and blankets, we called upon God in prayer, and we ate a lot of pie.
Most importantly, we made connections. We tried with everything we’ve got to make sure there was somebody from Central at every table. Not serving food, not gathering information, but lovingly sharing our lives with those around us. Learning names, looking at pictures of children and grandchildren, making fun of each other’s teams, noticing rings and bracelets, laughing together at some of our silly assumptions.
I don’t know when or even if Saturday’s lunch will translate into baptisms and new members classes and a swell in the church rolls. It doesn’t matter; it’s not the point. The point is that for two hours on Saturday, four hundred of our neighbors experienced God. They got a glimpse, a tiny little sneak preview of heaven. They were made, I hope, to feel important, to feel loved, to feel significant, to know they matter.
I think that’s seeking justice: understanding what our God is doing in the world, what his ultimate goals are, what the eternal outcome of what he’s doing is going to be, and then working like crazy to make it happen in our contexts right here, right now.
We don’t have it all figured out here at Central. We still mess a lot of things up and we still allow many things to slip through the cracks. But we’re trying to do good works that imitate our Lord. We’re trying to view our efforts and evaluate our programs with better questions. It’s not just “What would Jesus do?” It’s also, “What did God do for me?” and “What is God doing right now?”