What then shall we say of these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Romans 8: 31

 

This is very confident verse. It is the sort of idea that can compel bold action and incite brave words. It is also an idea that has been seriously misused on many occasions, for much that is unjust and unrighteous has also been done while claiming the name of God as the impetus behind the deeds. I think that there is a basic line of determination to be observed in considering what is within the realm of serving God and what is done in service to self and to the world. In one sense it is as simple to discriminate as asking the question, “Is this something that Jesus would have done?” However, that question is never all that simple when placed into the complexity of the world as it is experienced. The other determinate that comes to mind involves the question, “Does this bring glory to God and serve the purposes of His Kingdom?”

 

These questions tend to sift out actions which are violent, oppressive, greedy, based in fear or anger, and other sorts of words and deeds that gain power and control for people instead of pointing toward Christ as the One who holds all power and who we trust to be in control of it all. So, I am led back to the question that Paul raises in the text. Who can be against us? Well, experience, both personal and that of people throughout history, says that many can oppose people who seek to serve Christ. In fact, this opposition is guaranteed in God’s Word, and the narrative of opposition is clearly one that runs throughout Jesus’ life.  We also live in a fallen and a broken world where nothing works as it was intended to in God’s creation design. Thus, people and things do work against us, bodies and minds fail, and the earth itself erupts and blows forth winds of destruction and chaos.

 

With all of this wreckage and destruction running about in our world and impacting our lives, how can the idea that none can oppose us in Christ still be true? We need to look at the setting of Paul’s words, for he is specifically speaking about our standing before God as people who have been made holy and blameless, justified, by the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for us. This does not guarantee an easy path through life or that we will not be opposed in small and in great things along the way. We will encounter many difficult and trying situations and antagonistic people, and these are the times when it is most important to remember that in Christ no can stand against us. When we are acting out of love, seeking after justice, lifting up the oppressed and the weak, and doing other things that reflect the heart of God in our world, we may get bloodied and battered, but we will be held up by Christ and the truth of what we do for the glory of God in our world will be known by the Father as Christ does proclaim us to the heavens to be beloved daughters and sons of the one True King.

And will not God give justice to His elect, who cry to Him day and night? Will He delay long over them?

Luke 18: 7

 

Delay has become the normal state of things is our over scheduled and underserved world. We can almost plan on our doctor being behind schedule, on traffic delays, that the check will still be in the mail on the date that it is due to us, and on the dreaded “Flight Delayed” message beside our connection. The streets are full, many people are sick, and airlines are cutting flights in order to become profitable. Some of these things make sense and others really don’t. When it comes to time and timing, the application of reason is more often frustrating than it is informative. Although all of these regular life events can be frustrating, existence becomes truly hard when it is justice that is delayed. Then days can become interminably long and oppression hangs over life like a dark curtain.

 

The justice that we seek may be for ourselves, for people who we know and love, or for people in our world. Whatever the situation and whoever is the object of our concern and focus, waiting for resolution is never easy. The harm that injustice has caused seems to continue to increase. Pain and suffering remain on their destructive course so that it is easy to lose faith and to enter into despair. In Luke’s account, Jesus has just told the story of an unrighteous judge who eventually relented and granted due justice to a relentless widow. The contrast that Christ set out for us is that if even a judge who “neither feared God nor respected man” would be moved to bring about justice, then we can certainly have faith that God, who loves us totally and who is concerned for our well being will provide it to us.

 

Christ is telling us that we need to remain faithful and that we also need to trust the outcome and its timing to God. Like the widow in the story, we should never stop in our appeals to God. For it is in our sincere prayer and our willingness to remain vulnerable and yielded to the timing and the nature of God’s response that we grow in our understanding of God’s view of our world. God works in our hearts during these times of waiting and trusting. His Spirit speaks to or impatient souls, and He leads us into the peaceful rest that is found only in abiding continually in Christ. God has promised that His justice will prevail in the world of His creation. He has given us Christ as the only true and effective means to that justice. Now our Lord desires for us to remain committed to Him. Christ calls upon us to speak out confidently about our desire to see His truth prevail over evil in our day and to act on behalf of the weak and the oppressed with the assurance of God’s promised victory.

If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing, then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who are in office on those days.

Deuteronomy 19: 16, 17

 

If we expect that justice will prevail in our land, we need to be willing to yield its interpretation to those who know its source. God’s Law as expressed by Moses was intended to create a framework for humans to access the mind and the heart of God in the ways that we dealt with each other. The Israelites were required to transact life along in Accordance with the way that God intended for them to do it. They were to be respecters of property rights, to care about the long-term impact of their actions, and to hold life as a sacred gift to be protected and nourished. They were to be a people who occupied the land on behalf of its righteous and just King.

 

The details of the judicial code have changed. The way that our societies are organized is very different. Our property rights and human rights are managed by a different system than was in place in those ancient communities. Yet, the underlying truth has been altered very little by the passage of time and through our cultural development. God still holds humanity to a standard of behavior that is above any that our legal codes consider. He continues to speak a truth to our hearts and our minds that exceeds that which our governments have created. Thus the Lord calls upon people to be bound to a commitment to justice that comes from deep within our beings. We are to be lovers of humanity who are determined to live in the center of Christ’s righteous grace.

 

Unfortunately, there is much that is broken in our world. We live in the middle of moral decay and of ethical emptiness. I think that God wants us to do something that these ancient people of Moses’ time would have done. When things were going against God’s clear will, they frequently went before God and confessed their own participation in the sin. They turned first to God and sought out His voice so that they would know what He was calling them to do to bring about the restoration of righteousness in their land. No one is without guilt. None of us are sinless in this time of worldwide sin and godlessness. It seems that God wants us on our faces in humble submission to Him. He wants us to repent and to listen for His voice. Then He desires for us to take the actions that He calls us to without regard for ourselves. We are to pray unceasingly, to love boldly, to sacrifice all of ourselves, and to seek justice for everyone. The only justice that we can anticipate and count upon starts within our hearts and culminates in Christ.