Sunday Lenten Conversations: Five
Conwill, Houston, 1947-2016. Let Justice Roll Down Like Waters, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.
Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Reading: Psalm 62:5-8, 11-12, The Voice
My soul quietly waits for the True God alone because I hope only in Him. He alone is my rock and deliverance, my citadel high on a hill; I will not be shaken. My salvation and my significance depend ultimately on God; the core of my strength, my shelter, is in the True God.
Have faith in Him in all circumstances, dear people. Open up your heart to Him; the True God shelters us in His arms.
The True God spoke this once, and twice I’ve heard: That You, the True God, hold all power; Your love never fails, O Lord, for You pay every person back according to his deeds.
Excerpts from Justice, Unspoken Sermons III, by George MacDonald
(Questions for Conversation added)
Introduction: What is your response to the phrase: “There is no opposition, no strife whatever, between mercy and justice.”
God is one; and the depth of foolishness is reached by that theology which talks of God as if he held different offices, and differed in each. It sets a contradiction in the very nature of God himself. It represents him, for instance, as having to do that as a magistrate which as a father he would not do!
The justice of God is this, that--to use a boyish phrase, the best the language will now afford me because of misuse--he gives every man, woman, child, and beast, everything that has being, fair play; he renders to every man according to his work; and therein lies his perfect mercy; for nothing else could be merciful to the man, and nothing but mercy could be fair to him.
Question: How has God acted out both justice and mercy in your own life?
More is required of the maker, by his own act of creation, than can be required of men. More and higher justice and righteousness is required of him by himself, the Truth;--greater nobleness, more penetrating sympathy; and nothing but what, if an honest man understood it, he would say was right.
Two rights cannot possibly be opposed to each other. If God punish sin, it must be merciful to punish sin; and if God forgive sin, it must be just to forgive sin. We are required to forgive, with the argument that our father forgives. It must, I say, be right to forgive. Every attribute of God must be infinite as himself. He cannot be sometimes merciful, and not always merciful. He cannot be just, and not always just.
Question: What is your reaction to the notion of punishment, and God’s purpose for it?
God does destroy sin; he is always destroying sin. In him I trust that he is destroying sin in me. He is always saving the sinner from his sins, and that is destroying sin. But vengeance on the sinner, the law of a tooth for a tooth, is not in the heart of God, neither in his hand.
Repentance, restitution, confession, prayer for forgiveness, righteous dealing thereafter, is the sole possible, the only true make-up for sin. For nothing less than this did Christ die.
Question: What is your reaction to MacDonald’s notion of ‘destroying sin’ and the ‘only true make-up for sin’?
Our business is not to think correctly, but to live truly; then first will there be a possibility of our thinking correctly. One chief cause of the amount of unbelief in the world is, that those who have seen something of the glory of Christ, set themselves to theorize concerning him rather than to obey him.