Living Within a Vision of God’s Justice
“Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and given to a nation producing the fruits of it.”
- Matthew 21:43
When I hear these words about tenant farmers, stewards, scheming to get more than their fair, legal share, I can’t help but think of sharecroppers, serfs, peasants, landless laborers, migrants on every continent through the ages, wondering what it might take to create some security and stability in their lives. Surely the first people who heard this story were more likely to be like the tenants than a landowner.
Where is the kingdom of God in that? And what is this kingdom of God that we have already that can be taken from us?
In this reading from Matthew, and in all of the readings, it is clear that there is a law and also a parallel or critique, a law from the tradition, that is the way of the kingdom of God, the world as God intends it.
What does the Bible tell us are the attributes of a society living within a vision of God’s justice?
In your context, does the law support you if you wish to live within that vision?
The virtues of the reign of God’s justice, the world as God intends it to be, are clear in the Hebrew Scripture: The love and awe of God are illustrated by a just society. A just society has God at the center. A just society is marked by laws that enshrine fairness toward one another; compassion and generosity to those who cannot fend for themselves; and right stewardship of the earth.
These are clearly difficult values to apply in real living. In 2017, as in the time of the Hebrew prophets, we can feel like outsiders at the gates of the palace as we try to proclaim these values.
As Christians, living as though the law of God is the law of our hearts is the work of our lives. We listen and bring the breadth of our experience to these texts, and we are convicted by them.
Summary and Reflection questions:
- Jesus’ call to all believers is to bring forth the kingdom of God, on earth. In Exodus we are given clear guidance, laws, to help us to do this. The 10 commandments seem simple enough, yet in the complexity we face in our lives today, we know that living them out can be challenging.
- Imagine a society in which God is at the center, in which laws ensure fairness and equity, in which all people act with generosity and compassion for one another. A society vested in the care of all creation. As you paint a picture of this world in your mind, we invite you to reflect upon these questions:
- What does a just society look like to you?
- And how is God calling you to participate in bringing it forth?
Written by The Rev. Winnie Varghese
The Rev. Winnie Varghese is the Director of Community Outreach for Trinity Church, Wall Street. She has been a priest for 17 years in parishes and as a college chaplain. Before joining Trinity, Winnie served as rector of St. Mark’s-in-the-Bowery, a vibrant and diverse church in Manhattan that tripled in size under her leadership.