Justice and faith are two important threads that run through both the Old and New Testament of the Bible.. In the Bible, god’s children continually call out in their times of suffering and injustice. With faith in and through prayer, they call out to our God, a God of Justice.
A good story of faith and justice is found in Luke Gospel, chapter 18, the story of the persistent widow and the unjust Judge. There is a story, written by a fellow named John Sumwalt, that puts this biblical story into a more modern context that can help us, I believe, get a better understand what Jesus is getting at.
“In a certain city there was a corrupt bureaucrat who neither feared God nor respected people; and there was a single mother on social assistance in the same city who kept coming to him and saying, “Make my landlord fix the furnace and insulate the walls. I can no longer afford to pay the heat bills and my children are freezing.” For a while the bureaucrat refused to listen, but the woman kept coming to his office every day with her three children, and each day she would make her plea again. After several weeks of this, he thought to himself, if I don’t give this woman what is right, she will pester me to death. An order was issued, the furnace was replaced and insulation was installed in the walls. The next day the woman was back in the bureaucrat’s office with her children. She thanked him for what he had done and then she said, “Now let me tell you about my plumbing problems.””
In Luke’s Gospel following the story of the widow and the judge, Jesus says, “Will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them.” With this Jesus is promising his followers that God will grant us justice, yet he also goes on to asked this important question, “And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” With this question, Jesus seems to be voicing concern that those have been granted justice will and have begun to take for granted what we have been given and have begun to lose their faith.
My Dad has a phrase he likes to say when something good happens, “Good country, this Canada, eh!” And it is true, isn’t it? God has been good to us living in Canada. This country is a great place to live. It is safe with a low level of crime and corruption. We have provided for us an excellent opportunity for our children to be educated. There is a good health system, even with our complaints against it, and a good, but not perfect, social safety net. When we compare ourselves in Canada to majority of the world, we are abundantly blessed. God has indeed granted much for us living in Canada today. We have been granted much justice.
What does this Gospel passage say to us, who have been granted so much? Is it possible that because we have been saved from so many circumstances of injustice that once hindered our ability to survive and grow, that the need we feel for faith been diminished? Have we, who have been granted this justice, begun to take for granted what we have been given and begun to lose our faith?
I believe that the answer is yes. Yet, I am sorry to say that this is not new in the life of God’s Children. Most of the time the prophets of the Old Testament spoke was to call out to the people, who have begun to get comfortable in the ways of the world around them, and call them back to a renewed faith in the real God. Throughout the history of the God’s relationship with God’s children, through the all the prophets from Jeremiah to Isaiah to John the Baptist, the call is repeated. This call for renewal is fulfilled in Christ and yet even in days since the cycle and need for renewal has continued into today.
It is time for renewal; a time to begin again, both as a person in relationship with God and as a church in relationship to the needs of the world around us.