Introduction

No justice, no peace – the shout heard all around the world this past week.  Is the pursuit of justice and peace of spirit worth fighting for?  Is it worth dying for?  Over the past week, we have watched as protests have erupted not only here in America, but in countries all around the world – it has been amazing to see.  As much as we go on about how messed up a place the world is, we find that there are still many of us who share one common goal – the pursuit of what is right.

This will be the second sermon in my new series – That Special Thing. Last Sunday I focused on the spirit that God put inside of all of mankind. I want to focus on fighting for justice and why this is something that is essential to our faith.  Pay close attention to what my key verse says today.  There are five things that the Lord says we need to do, and I want to try and focus on these things in my message for today.

17 Learn to do good;

Seek justice,

Rebuke the oppressor;

Defend the fatherless,

Plead for the widow.

isaiah 1:17 nkjv

What Is Right

As I sat and watched coverage of the protests, I kept hearing a couple of statements that constantly bothered me.  It seemed very important to point out when protests were being peaceful and when protests were not being peaceful.  In my personal opinion, I believe such distinctions were a way to distract from what those were protesting about.  Trust me, I believe all of us can tell the difference between a protest and a riot filled with looting.

We cannot get distracted by whether or not we agree with a peaceful protest or riot – such argument only leads to more arguing.  There is an issue at the heart of the matter that needs to be corrected so that there will be no protests or riots in the first place.  The issue at the heart of the matter is the injustices that many have cried far too long about in our nation and around the world.

The injustice:  the right thing is rarely done equally for all people.  So, we must first learn what the right thing is so that we can do good.  Scripture declares (Mic. 6:8), “He (God) has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”  We have even heard, and we have learned, that loving our neighbor without malice is what is right (Col. 3:8-14).  Paul wrote that the character of the believer is one that “put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, and longsuffering.”  

Why do I mention these two particular passages of scripture?  I reference these scriptures because we all have an idea of right from wrong, especially being followers of Christ.  Yet, what should we do when we see that either we are being wronged or someone else is being wronged?  I find that this is a question that many believers wrestle with when it comes to handling difficult situations.

Fighting For What’s Right

Why is this such a struggle for believers?  Well, we remember such scriptures like one of my favorite scriptures (Rom. 12:18) that says, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”  We believe that we are supposed to be peaceful, which we are, but our idea of peace is not truly peace.  Think about this for a moment, what do you think keeping the peace means?  What does keeping the peace look like?

Defining peace

You see, many of us believe that peace is calm and quiet.  So, ‘keeping the peace’ often means to keep quiet.  For example:  many people are very slow to say anything when someone who loves them does wrong by them.  So many relationships end up in a terrible place because people stay quiet in order to keep the peace.  This same thing happens in the workplace, with our friends, and with our neighbors as well.

To allow someone to wrong you repeatedly sounds like a dysfunctional peace to me.  This means that the peace is not working correctly for all participants.  Let me tell you something, a peace that is dysfunctional, is not peace at all. No, peace works in a beautiful harmony.  This harmony means that all parts are working together in sync to create something that is beautiful.

A battle of the heart

We as a country, and even more so, we as humankind have never really functioned in such harmony.  How can we when man has, in the past, chosen to enslave and still to this day, oppress one another.  Nothing about this sounds like peace, when justice is fair for one group of people and others are treated less than animals.  There can be no harmony – no peace – when justice is not fair and equal to all men.

When God created man, He did not create us to live with each other in such a manner.  What kind of heart (that is spirit) must you have to be able to enslave another person?  What kind of soul must you have to continually oppress another person and keep them down?  All week, as I have watched officers shove people to the ground viciously, and shoot rubber bullets at the heads of unarmed citizens, I have wondered what kind of heart must be inside of them.

It takes a lack of heart – empathy – to do some of the things I have seen:  NYPD ramming their cars into a crowd of people; Buffalo police pushing down an elderly unarmed man; George Floyd being murdered as he lay in the street.  I cannot judge anyone’s heart, but I can tell you it appears we have a problem of the heart in our world today.  I want you to understand that the heart I am talking about is the spirit (soul) that God breathed into mankind.  This battle is not against the flesh, but it is of the spirit – this is spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:12)!

If you want harmony

I take a look again at my key verse for today’s sermon which says, “Learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.”  I see five things that God tells us to do here in this scripture.  Let’s remember the timing in which this scripture takes place in the Bible.  As we have seen in our recent Sunday school lessons, during the time of Isaiah, the nation of Israel had essentially become a lawless nation. 

In that day, God looked at the nation, and saw a nation where truth failed (was ignored).  God saw that there was no justice in that day and it displeased Him (Is. 59:15).  It displeased the Lord that no man interceded on the behalf of what was right as in times before.  

I believe everything we are going through today has all been put into motion by the Lord.  First there was the crisis in which I believe it was a time to prove we can live for each other.  Now we are living in this moment where injustice has reached a boiling point.  Are we willing to now fight for the harmony that all men and women deserve to live in?  If we want that harmony, God gives us five things to do.

Five ways to fight for peace from God

First the Lord says for us to learn to do good.  Good, again, is the love we have for those around usSuch love is filled with tender mercies, kindness, and humility with no malice of heart.  Now, we notice in my key verse that the second and the third things God says are tied together:  seek justice, rebuke the oppressor – two keywords being seek and rebuke.

Both of these keywords are verbs and in elementary school, I learned that verbs are words of actionSeek: to go in search of; to look for.  A synonym I believe fits even better here is pursue.  Pursue:  to find or employ measures to obtain or accomplish.

The writer of Hebrews wrote (Heb. 12:14), “pursue peace with all people.”  Measures must be taken in order for us to know such harmony!  The writer of Hebrews even suggests that such a pursuit would be one you can’t enter into with weak arms, hands, and knees.  He says (Heb. 12:12), “strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees” – get in shape for this battle because it’s going to be tough.

This pursuit was tied into the rebuking of the oppressor.  The one thing that often bothers me about some believers is that some seem to think this pursuit can be done in a quiet-like manner.  Rebuke:  to criticize sharply.  Sometimes, the rebuke can be done quietly but there are other times when the rebuke must be made loudly!  The oppressor is someone who crushes or burdens by an abuse of power.  Sometimes the rebuke has to be loud to get the oppressors attention.

Let’s understand that both of these actions are also parts of the love we are to have for those around us.  Love moves in a way pursuing what is right and letting somebody know when they have done wrong!  Lastly, God says we fight for what’s right when we defend the fatherless and plead for the widow (this means to help those in need).  Again, I want you to understand that all of these actions are actions of true love for those around you.

When We Stand Together

If it is not clear to you yet, there is a spiritual war going on in our world today.  There is a battle going on this very instance for the heart of mankind.  I tell you today that the heart of mankind (our spirit), the harmony we deserve to live in with one another, is worth fighting for.  God created us to live in harmony and not in this dysfunctional peace we see throughout the world today!

I will always stand with those who fight for justice and for truth.  To see all peoples coming and stand together shouting no justice, no peace has truly warmed the heart.  Until right is done by all men, how can we as a humankind really know such a beautiful harmony.  Let us, especially as believers, ensure that we are always willing to stand and speak up for what is right and for those in need.

Doing this is essential to our faith because this is the way of Christ – the way of love.  We should never stand for a wrong!  We should never stand for injustice!  Most importantly, we should never allow truth to fail.