And Justice and Mercy for All

Learning Practical Ways To Show Justice And Mercy To Others.

Dan Franklin
Sep 11, 2022    39m
Have you ever stopped and wondered what it is that God truly wants from us? God wants us to be humble, just, and merciful. This message teaches us practical ways to live this out and show justice and mercy to others. Video recorded at Upland, California.

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Dan Franklin: [00:00:19] We're going to be talking for the next ten weeks, starting today, we're going to be talking through this series that we're calling Justice and Mercy. And I want us to start with the question, and the question I want us to start with might end up feeling a little bit odd, but the question is, what does God want? Now I say it's odd because I don't know how much we ask this question, because maybe when we think about God, we're just like, well, if God wants something, God gets that thing. So we don't spend a lot of time thinking about what does God want? But the more you pause to think about our lives, and for those of us who are believers in Jesus and we're saying that we're looking to live lives devoted and committed to God, it seems like this is actually a question we should probably ask quite a bit.

Dan Franklin: [00:01:03] Does anybody spend any time during the day thinking about what you want? We spent a lot of time, we wake up in the morning, what do I want from the day? Do we wake up in the morning and ask the question, what does God want? This is just, it's a good question for us to ask on any day, but here's why I think it's especially important. Not only because it's going to tie right into the passage, but because when we think of a subject like justice, or subjects like justice and mercy, we can start by saying those are things we want. We want justice in the world. We don't seem to be really great at agreeing on exactly what justice is or how we get there, but we all want that. And we all want mercy in the world, at least for ourselves, we want mercy. And so we could look at these and we could say, well, this is great, here's what we should do, we should think about the idea that justice and mercy, these are things we already want. And then we'll look at the Bible and we'll try to figure out how God fits into our pursuit of justice and our pursuit of mercy. And we don't want to do that, instead, we want to start with the more important question, what does God want? Before we ask what we want, we want to ask what's important to God? And in the passage that you just heard read, in Micah, chapter 6, verses 6, 7, and 8, this is the question that's at the beginning of the passage. In fact, let me pull it back up for us and just look at the beginning of verse 6, and how it fits into the idea of asking the question, what does God want? He says, "With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God?"

Dan Franklin: [00:02:47] Now, let me give some context for this because we're not only jumping into the middle of a book, chapter 6, but we're even jumping into the middle of the chapter with verse 6. So let's give a little background, Micah is an Old Testament prophet. And as the prophet, he was sent by God to the people of Israel to speak to them. And prophets often didn't have the most fun job, because if they were sent, it was often because something was going wrong and they had to confront the people, and that was true of Micah. And if you look through the book of Micah, if you were to start at the beginning and walk through, you'd see him confronting the people on their idolatry, and also confronting people on the injustice in the land. And then if we were to read the first five verses of chapter 6, what you'd see is there's a lead-up to this passage that we get, and the lead-up is that God is basically bringing His court case against the people of Israel, he's bringing his charges and they are obviously guilty of the charges.

Dan Franklin: [00:03:47] And then what the prophet Micah does in these next couple of verses, is he seems to sort of create an imaginary Israelite responding to these charges. So he puts the word into the mouth of just an average Israelite asking, how do we respond to the fact that God has found us guilty before him? And he starts with the question, what does God want? "With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God?" And then he starts throwing out some suggestions in the second half of verse 6. He says, "Shall I come before him with burnt offerings?" Now, if we were to take a moment here and have everybody raise their hand about their favorite book of the Bible, no doubt there would be a lot of votes for Leviticus. Everybody loves, alright, Meghan's like for real, I do love Leviticus. We're going to have the psychiatrist ready for you afterward, to try to figure out why you like it. No, Leviticus is a very powerful book, it's a hard book for us to get through because it's very technical. But Leviticus starts off with seven chapters, just about the sacrifices the Israelites were supposed to do. And if you go to the very first chapter, it's all about burnt offerings. This was just the standard; this was the most basic offering. And so that's where this guy starts, he says, What does God want for me? Maybe a burnt offering. I mean, that's just the average offering that the average Israelite would bring to God as a gift, either if he'd sinned and so there was something to atone for, or just as a gift before God.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:16] So he starts off with the most generic gift he could bring to God, and then he kind of ups the ante. He says. "Calves a year old?" And the reason why that's a little bit more is because that was the ideal sacrifice to bring before God. Sometimes the Israelites were like, God, I've got a gift for you, and they brought an animal that was about to die of natural causes, they were like, here you go. If you brought a calf a year old, you were sacrificing future income and resources. So he said, all right, maybe not just the most generic offering, maybe what God wants for me is to bring the very best of what I have.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:54] As we move into verse 7, he keeps upping the ante, he keeps imagining maybe more and more extravagant things. He says, "Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?" And the Rams were often, not the Rams who lost on Thursday, but the Rams, to my Buffalo Bills by the way. The Rams were offerings, were animals that were often brought as sacrifices, and then olive oil was also often a part of what the Israelites would bring. And so he's imagining this scenario now, like maybe one animal is not good enough, maybe just the average sacrifice, even a really good sacrifice with a calf a year old, maybe that's not enough, maybe we need thousands and thousands of animals or 10,000 rivers of olive oil. Now, the average Israelite clearly couldn't pull this off, so maybe he's imagining the king doing this, or the whole nation doing this. Either way, he's imagining, maybe in order to satisfy God, we just need this massive outpouring of sacrifices.

Dan Franklin: [00:06:58] And then, believe it or not, at the end of verse 7, he goes even further with what he might bring. He says, "Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" So he's brainstorming and he's thinking, well, what could I bring that would be even bigger than thousands of animals and 10,000 rivers of olive oil? He goes, gosh, what would be even bigger is if I brought my own son to sacrifice, which was outlawed in Israel. And I know this will seem strange to us, but that actually made Israel weird in the ancient Near East, that they outlawed this. This was a practice that was done by other surrounding nations, but God had said to the Israelites, nope, that's not who we are, that's not what we do, that's an abomination. Despite that, there was an Israelite king who did this at one point, and so you can imagine the Israelite here just thinking, well, is that what God wants for me? Does he want me to sacrifice my own child?

Dan Franklin: [00:07:55] And you can kind of see the wrangling going on right here, all right, I understand that I have an obligation from God, I'm trying to think of what it is. What would be so important to God? What does God really want from his people? What does he really want from us? Does he want just the generic sacrifice that he commands? Does he want the very best of what I have to offer? Does he want me to get extravagant with my gifts? Does he want me to sacrifice what's most precious to me personally? And all of this leads to one of the most famous verses in the whole Old Testament. This is a verse that probably some of you memorized, and a verse that probably some of us sang at one point in church services. Micah chapter 6, verse 8. And Micah is now answering the question of the Israelites. And he says, he, speaking of God, "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you?" What does God want? "To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." There are three very simple things, this is what God wants. God wants us to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before our God.

Dan Franklin: [00:09:10] Now, here's the deal, man, some of you are already seeing it, you're like, all right, this series is called Justice and Mercy, it's up there on the screen. Justice and mercy, you see both of those right there in verse 8, to act justly and to love mercy. But some of you right now are like, shouldn't the series be called Justice, Mercy, and Humility? Because we got a third one there, we've got to walk humbly before your God.

Dan Franklin: [00:09:30] And so let's pause and talk a little bit about walking humbly before your God because I think this is so significant that it may even be Micah making the summary statement of how a human being is meant to live before God, that we walk humbly before God. You know, later on, we are going to be talking and throughout the series, we're going to be talking about justice and mercy. There are some people that like these, that are like, yeah, justice, I'm about that, I want to see justice in the world. And mercy, they might not understand as much, but yeah, I'm for that too. I'm for justice and mercy, I'm for social action, but what they want is a kingdom without a King. They want to usher in some of these things without there actually being a God who's involved in this. And Micah's letting us know that's not what God wants, God doesn't want just a bunch of people impersonally interacting with rules, trying to bring about justice and mercy in the world, he wants people walking humbly before God. And every day of our lives, that is a good summary of how we are meant to live before God.

Dan Franklin: [00:10:33] Do you know what people who walk humbly before God do? They pray. Do you know why? Because they recognize they can't do anything without God. Somebody has once said that prayerlessness is practical atheism. When we don't pray, we're acting like God is just not involved in the equation. When we pray in desperation, we're walking humbly before God. Do you know what else people who live this way do? They trust God and obey him even when they think they have a better idea. Quick confession, has anybody ever run into a situation where you read God's idea, and you thought, I have a better idea? Some honest people. The rest of you are like, I know it's not good. Yeah, it's not good, but we all do it. You do not have a better idea than God. And you might think, I think I do. Do you know how you need to respond? With humility. The humility of recognizing that you are a creature and God is the Creator. With the humility of walking before God and recognizing that his will is good and that our will is flawed. So in everything that you do, every day of your life, walk humbly before God. That's why we worship. That's why we pray. That's why we gather as a church. That's why we obey him. We walk humbly before our God.

Dan Franklin: [00:11:58] But before he said that, he talked about two other things. He said it's God's desire that we would act justly and love mercy. And so here's the deal, if walking humbly before God is sort of a summary statement of how we interact with God, acting justly and loving mercy is a summary statement of how we behave towards one another. God is not in need of us to act justly with him, and God certainly doesn't need us to give him mercy. Justice and mercy are ways that we act towards one another. A summary statement here in Micah, in the middle of a very important verse in the Bible, says, here's what God wants, he wants humility towards him, and he wants you to act with justice and mercy towards other people.

Dan Franklin: [00:12:48] And this wasn't just something that Micah thought, this was something that Jesus thought. I want to read you a passage, something that Jesus said in Matthew 23. And just to set the tone before I read it, this is an extended passage of Jesus just laying into the religious leaders in first-century Israel. And he lays into them in Matthew chapter 23 verses 23 through 24, and he says this, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former." Now, before reading the last part of this passage, I want to just pause here and let's take this in. Jesus might even have Micah 6:8 in mind here, because it's so closely connected. He says, all right, here's the deal, you guys are focused on the minutia of God's law. You're not only tithing your money, you're not only giving 10% of your money, you're giving 10% of your spices in your garden, that's how detailed you're getting with this. And he doesn't say you shouldn't be doing that; he says you have neglected the more important matters. In the literal Greek, it's, you've neglected the weightier matters, the more substantive matters of the law. And what does he say those are? Justice, mercy, and faithfulness. And frankly, he may really, I don't know for sure, but he may really have Micah 6:8 in mind here, because faithfulness has to do with walking humbly before God, and justice and mercy are the other two things that Micah mentioned here. This is pretty important to Micah, this is pretty important to Jesus, that he says, sure, do those other things fulfill the technicalities, but don't focus on them to the neglect of what matters even more.

Dan Franklin: [00:14:47] And then he makes this interesting and also kind of gross analogy in the last verse, he says, "You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel." So let's just try t imagine what Jesus is getting at here. You're about to drink a glass of orange juice, and you want to strain out anything that doesn't belong in that glass of orange juice. How many of you would like a gnat-free glass of orange juice? Well, that sounds great. I mean, if you're really desperate, and if you're in a situation where you're really thirsty, you might be like, oh, it's just a gnat, I'm going to go ahead and drink it. But it's sort of like, yeah, yeah, I don't want any of that in there. Jesus says you are focused on getting the knots out of your glass of orange juice. It was true of the Israelites then, it can certainly be true of us and of churches today, that we can get really focused on the gnats.

Dan Franklin: [00:15:41] Let me give a few examples of some of these gnats. Sometimes we get really, really focused on the nature and the noise level of our music on Sunday mornings. We have strong opinions about what songs we should sing, what songs we shouldn't sing, what instruments should be involved, what instruments shouldn't be involved, exactly how loud the music is, exactly whether we should have three or four or five songs, and where they should be in the order of the service. We can get really focused on that, when we are focused on that, we are straining gnats. When we get focused on what exactly we wear when we gather on a Sunday morning. We say we need to make sure we are dressed appropriately for this, it's not that it's of zero importance, but it's straining gnats. When we get into discussions about public school, private school, homeschooling, and what exactly is God's way in all of this, we are straining gnats. And when we get focused on exactly how much secular music you're allowed to listen to, and what movies and TV shows you're allowed to watch, it's not that it has zero importance, but it's straining gnats. It's making sure we don't get a single gnat in that glass of orange juice. And I'll say, I'm sympathetic to not wanting gnats in there, I don't even like pulp in my orange juice, so I don't want any gnats. And if you're like, shouldn't we still get those gnats out? Absolutely. But if you've got all the gnats, and there's a camel in your glass of orange juice, you've missed the bigger problem. And Jesus is saying you're focused on straining gnats and you're swallowing a camel. He says justice and mercy are at the center of this, and that's what Micah had said, also, justice and mercy are at the center of what's important to God.

Dan Franklin: [00:17:27] And that's why at the center of not only this message but at the center of this whole series, why we're talking about justice and mercy throughout this, is because justice and mercy are the central outward signs of a life devoted to Jesus. And I want to be very clear when I'm saying that justice and mercy are, according to Micah, according to Jesus, the central outward signs of a life devoted to Jesus. More central than how loud you sing on Sunday morning. More central than your attendance record of church, or your attendance record of your life group, or your record of how many days in a row you've read the Bible. Those things aren't things that we should say they don't matter at all, but they are not as central as living out justice and mercy to one another.

Dan Franklin: [00:18:19] Now, let me be clear also on this, living out justice and mercy never saved anyone. We've talked about this, especially the last two Sundays, we are saved by the pure grace of God, poured out through Jesus, nobody ever did enough justice and mercy in order to get into God's family. We are saved by putting our faith in Jesus and by His pure grace. Nobody ever got saved by living out justice and mercy. But as believers in Jesus, this is right at the center of how we're meant to be identified, that we're doing justly and that we're loving with mercy.

Dan Franklin: [00:18:57] And so with that said, let's make some progress now, right? If justice and mercy are that central, let's do a little bit of definition work. Let's try to make sure we understand what both of these words mean. And after we've done a little bit of that, we're going to move on to talking about what does it look like for us actually to live these out. But let's start with this to make sure we're all on the same page, justice and mercy.

Dan Franklin: [00:19:17] We'll start with justice, a simple definition of justice as we encounter it in the Bible, to do justice is to give to people what they are owed, that's justice in the Bible. And by the way, what people are owed could be something good and could be something bad. If you buy something from somebody, then what they are owed is your payment, and they're going to be glad to get what they are owed. If what somebody has done has committed a crime, then what they are owed is some sort of consequence, and they're not going to be excited to get what they are owed. But justice, as we read about it in the Bible, it's very objective, it's about people getting what is due to them one way or the other. And that's why in the Bible, the main enemy of justice is favoritism, sometimes it's called partiality, not treating people equally. So justice doesn't lead to equal outcomes, but justice does lead to equal treatment of different groups of people. So that's where equality is at the center of this, and that's why partiality and favoritism are such big problems when it comes to justice.

Dan Franklin: [00:20:26] And if you read the Old Testament, there are a couple of examples that are constantly used about ways that justice is perverted, one is the bribed judge. So there's a court case, and a judge gets bribed in order to turn a blind eye to somebody who's guilty, or in order to find somebody guilty who shouldn't be found guilty, this is a perversion of justice. This is an injustice because it's not giving people the verdict that they are due, that they are owed. The other example that you get, and some of you may have run across this in different books of the Bible, in particular in Proverbs, there's a lot of talk about fair measures and fair weights. Has anybody run across this before? Like, what are they talking about with fair weights? Well, this is a marketplace issue. And so in the marketplace for the Israelites, and really in the ancient Near East, what they would do is, somebody would want to buy, we'll just use our measures, they'd want to buy 10 pounds of grain. And so they'd come and put all the grain on one side of the scale, and then they'd put a 10-pound weight on the other side of the scale to make sure that it all measures up. But some people in the marketplace had different weights for different situations, so they'd have something that's labeled as 20 pounds, but really only weighs 10 pounds. And so they'd put the weight up there and they're like, no, it's 20 pounds of grain, you owe me extra. This was a perversion of justice because it kept people from getting what they were owed. To do justice is to make sure people get what they are owed.

Dan Franklin: [00:21:58] And that's why throughout the world, and even throughout our country, when we look at the greatest examples of injustice, so much of it revolves around racism, whether it was slavery, or whether it was Jim Crow, or different unjust laws because it was not giving people the dignity and the right treatment that they were owed as image bearers, but instead, we played favorites. So that's justice, all right, so we want to do justice, all right, that's good.

Dan Franklin: [00:22:25] We've got what justice is, mercy is different. Mercy is not exactly the same thing. Mercy, instead of being about giving to people what they are owed, mercy is about giving people kindness that they are not owed. Mercy is generous. In a way, you can look at justice and you can say, well, justice isn't really generous. Because if you buy something from someone and give them what they are owed, you're not being generous, you're just giving somebody what they're owed. But mercy has much more to do with generosity because it's giving somebody something, even when you can't technically prove that they are owed it. So while justice might have to do with court cases or the marketplace, mercy might have more to do with caring for an aging parent, or caring for sick people, or giving money to poor people that you haven't stole anything from. But you just decide I'm going to, out of the kindness of my heart, show mercy and be generous with people. That's justice and mercy.

Dan Franklin: [00:23:27] And here's the funny thing, I think for some of us and there's going to be different personalities in this room, but I think for some of us in the talk of justice, we feel very comfortable. We feel very comfortable just in the sense of saying, all right, this is perfect, I want to find out exactly what I owe other people and then stop. Because once I've given them what I owe them, they can't demand anything else from me. And we might get away with that if all that Micah 6:8 said is that God wants you to do justly. But he says, God wants you to do justly, and what else? to love mercy. So even as we're talking about obligation, we can say, well, I'm not obligated to show mercy to that person. God disagrees, God says, I'm calling you to do justly and to love mercy.

Dan Franklin: [00:24:19] And I just want to give a preview of this, as we get ready to go through the next nine weeks of this series, one of the themes that we're going to see over and over again is that in the Bible, it gets murky where justice ends and where mercy begins. And some of us, it's going to make us uncomfortable, because we're like, no, I'm not comfortable with that being thought of as justice, that's optional, that's over and above. But as we read these passages in the Bible, we're going to have to deal with the fact that it's not always clear where justice ends and where mercy begins. And even if we could, even if we could make a real clear line, that's justice, that's mercy, we would still be in a place where God is calling us to do both. We're going to talk about this in a minute, but even as we talk about practicing justice and mercy, it can be on a grand wide scale, and it can be on a very personal scale, too.

Dan Franklin: [00:25:09] I was thinking about this just back to when I was younger, back to when I was in junior high. When I was in junior high, I got bullied. Now, it's not as bad as some of the stories you hear about bullying, they're horrific, it wasn't as bad as many of those. There were a few times that it got physical, it wasn't terribly physical, but it was pretty miserable. It was not an enjoyable time in my life. Sometimes I talk to junior highers and I'm like, oh, I know it's miserable for you guys. And they're like, you need counseling, you still got stuff you haven't dealt with. And so here's the deal, so I was bullied, from those bullies I was experiencing, you could say in a broad sense, I was experiencing injustice, that they were not giving me the dignity that was due me as a fellow human being. So you could say, all right, those who are bullying me, that was injustice. And then there were a whole bunch of people that that didn't do anything either way, that that didn't bully me, but also didn't really reach out to me with generous friendship. And you could say, all right, well, those people weren't technically doing injustice because they didn't owe me friendship in any way. But there are different kids during that time in my life that went over and above and showed me mercy. There were some cool kids who decided to reach out to me in friendship, even though I was bringing no status to the table in those cases. I still remember them, one of them was named Matt and one of them was named Jim, and out of their mercy, they reached out to me and lent me credibility. They didn't just stop and say, I'm not going to bully him, they decided to reach out with kindness and mercy. And by the way, all of those kids who didn't do anything one way or another, do you think I remember their names? I don't remember any of their names, but I remember the names of the two kids who not only did justice but showed me mercy. If justice and mercy are at the center of how we show Jesus to people, people aren't going to remember us if we simply stop and say, I'm just going to stop at giving what I owe instead of going further and showing mercy.

Dan Franklin: [00:27:20] So let's get into it, let's make a transition and let's talk about how do we live this out? How do we live this out? Because he doesn't just say in Micah 6:8, hey, know about justice and mercy, he says, do justly and love mercy, we're meant to live these out in our lives. So how do we live this these out? Well, before giving two suggestions, I want to give a quick pause and say there's a place that some of our minds go that's incorrect on this. And so I want to be very clear, the main way that we practice justice and mercy in this world is not through our vote. Now, go ahead and vote if you're old enough to vote and if you're a citizen of this country, go ahead and vote. We have a privilege that many people throughout history have not had, and that's that we get a vote in the process. You don't see any prophet saying to the Israelites, hey, make sure there's justice in the land, so get out and vote for the next king. They didn't have that option, people in the ancient Near East didn't have that option, we do have those options, so that's good and we should use them. But it's dangerous for us to get into the mode of saying, all right, God wants me to live out justice and mercy, that means I got to go out there and vote for the right candidate and vote for the right party. Two reasons why that's dangerous. The first reason why it's dangerous is that it lets us off the hook really easily. There have been some people who have said, you know, a voting is the least that you can do. And I think they're just about right, voting is probably just about the least any of us can do to try to fix injustice in the world. No, I take it back, posting on social media is actually the least we can do. But neither of these take much work, neither of these require great sacrifice for us to be able to do. So, if we're looking at this and we're like, hey, I did my job for helping there be justice and mercy in the world, I voted for the right candidates and the right party, we are letting ourselves off the hook way too easily. Go and vote, we never at this church have said, hey, voting doesn't matter. Yeah, go and vote, we have a stewardship with our votes, but that's not at the center of how we live this out. So that's the first danger that we run into, where we make voting on everything.

Dan Franklin: [00:29:31] Here's the second danger that we run into; we start to mark as enemies those who vote differently than us. We start to look at the people who voted for the other candidate or the other party, and they are now enemies on the other side from us, that is not appropriate, and it's not even accurate for us to divide over this. And here's why it's not appropriate and why it's not accurate, because we could be living out justice and mercy side by side with people who disagree exactly on the implementation of policies in our country.

Dan Franklin: [00:30:11] A bunch of years ago, when Karina and I were living in Oregon, there was a homeless ministry. There's a lot of homeless ministries in Oregon, a lot of homeless groups, because it kind of becomes a destination for homeless people up there. Even though it rains all the time, they've got bridges, they have public transportation. So I remember talking to the guy who was in charge, the head guy at one of the biggest, if not the biggest, homeless ministries in Portland, and we were asking him about how we practice this in our everyday lives. And he said you know what? I know there's a lot of debate about whether or not when you encounter a homeless person, you should give them money or you shouldn't give them money and should only give them food and vouchers, or whether you should actually give them cash. He just said, you know what, I just give them cash. I think, get over yourself, just go ahead and give them cash. I was kind of like, okay, I was a little bit surprised by that. His right-hand man, in a small conversation that he had with several of us later that same day, said, I know people do this differently. I never give homeless people money, that I only give them food, I give them gas vouchers and stuff like that. You had two guys working side by side in the same ministry, helping the same people, and they didn't even agree on a pretty important question about the implementation. Did that keep them from doing justice and showing mercy? No, it didn't.

Dan Franklin: [00:31:29] One of the things you're going to hear about throughout the series, we're going to be highlighting in some different ways, our local outreach partners. We've got the Upland Community Resource Center, where we're helping people with housing and helping people in difficult transitions with finances and with practical needs that they have. I guarantee you, if you go there to volunteer and Leif does your intake, he is not going to ask you who you voted for. Because you could be at the UCRC and you could have one person on one side of the room that believes we need massive government programs to create a bigger social safety net for people, and you can have somebody on the other side of the room saying, I think the government needs to get out of everything so people can stop all this regulation, and you could have two people side by side using their gifts to do justice and to love mercy.

Dan Franklin: [00:32:16] Church, as we head into midterms, don't think your church leadership is unaware that we're heading into midterms. As we're heading into midterms, we want to head off at the pass, the idea that we are going to go to war with one another over who we cast our vote for. It doesn't matter zero who we cast our vote for, it is not remotely at the center of how we live this out. And we are going to stand by side by side with brothers and sisters in Christ who vote differently in the fall because living out justice and mercy can be done whoever you've cast your ballot for.

Dan Franklin: [00:32:54] Now with that said, let's talk about how we do live this out. So two things, it's going to be real simple. Number one, we start with ourselves. We start with the question, all right, if justice is giving people what they are due, what they are owed, how am I doing that in my own life? And that could get as personal as how you're treating your classmates at school, or if you're a teacher or an employer, am I giving a fair wage, am I treating my students equally, or am I assuming that some are going to be troublemakers by something about them? How are we practicing justice and mercy? Frankly, for us as parents, practicing justice with our own kids is something we should be constantly alert to. Because if we learn anything from parenting in the Bible, it's that favoritism runs rampant through families. We want to look at ourselves first, we want to start small, we want to start personal and ask the question, how do we live this out in our personal lives? You don't have to go to the national scale to start on this. So one of the questions that I hope each one of us asks in this, is just to look at our personal lives and say, am I marked as being somebody who gives others what they are owed, the dignity and the care and the fairness that they're owed? And am I marked as somebody who goes even beyond that and shows generous kindness to people, even when it couldn't be proven that I need to do that for them?

Dan Franklin: [00:34:18] We start small, we start with ourselves, but then we don't stay there, we move outward. We keep looking for ways that we can be involved. Because justice and mercy are things that are precious to God, and just as he wants his light and his glory to spread to the world, he wants justice and mercy spreading to the world. Now, I already mentioned this, this isn't the only way we live this out, but this is right at the center of how we live this out. We have about 15 local outreach partners that we partner with as a church, you're going to find out more about them in the days to come. In three weeks, on October 2nd, outside we're going to have a big local outreach fair, you're going to get to meet the leaders of the different groups, you're going to get to find out what they're doing. Over the course of the next couple of months, we're going to do podcast episodes with five of our different local outreach partners, where you're going to get to hear more about what these ministries are on. On November 6th, right after services, we're actually going to do something special where we're going to carpool, a whole bunch of us, to five of these different ministries to take tours and to find out what's going on there. So we're really highlighting these, and here's the purpose, here's what we're hoping is going to happen, what we're hoping is going to happen is by the end of this series, by mid-November, each of us who considers ourselves a part of this church family will have adopted one of these groups. Have the humility before God to recognize that you can't do everything, but as you pray through this, I believe there's probably going to be one group or one ministry that God puts on your heart, something that maybe you are already connected with. Some of you are going to be like, I have such a heart for Assure Pregnancy Clinic, and what they do for women, and what they do to advocate for unborn babies, I want to be involved in that. Some of you are going to see the work of the UCRC. Some of you are going to hear about Pacific Lifeline, and how they're helping women who are in transitional situations. You're going to find something going on and you're going to say, I want to adopt that, or we as a family want to adopt this. And here's what it would mean to adopt it, it would mean at the very least, you are praying consistently for that group. And beyond that, what it would probably also mean is that you're dipping into your pocketbook and you're dipping into your schedule to be a part of what God is doing in bringing justice and mercy through these ministries, that you're volunteering or you're giving to be a part of the effort. We want to, as a church, be marked by this because God says it's right at the center.

Dan Franklin: [00:36:40] Although, before finishing up, I do want to address one other question. God clearly thinks this is important, but it's okay to ask the question why? Why is it that justice and mercy are such powerful signs to God? Why is this the central way that we indicate that we belong to Jesus and that we're devoted to him? I think we get some help on why this is so significant in a really core passage in the Bible in Romans chapter 3. And I want you to look at this verse that I'm going to put up on the screen because it's going to reveal how justice and mercy connect to the Gospel. Romans chapter 3, verse 26, speaking of God, the Apostle Paul writes, "He did it." And by it, he means he sent his son to be our sacrifice, "He did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus." Now I know that's a mouthful, but zero in on what Paul is saying here. Paul is saying, through the Gospel, through the cross of Jesus, through Jesus coming as a sacrifice for our sins to bring us forgiveness, here's what God put on display. He put on display that he is just, that he's righteous, that he has standards, and that he doesn't turn a blind eye to sin. He demonstrated that he is just, but he also demonstrated that he is the justifier, that he is the one who purifies us, cleanses us, and declares us righteous. Now God's justice is something we were owed, it's not something we were excited about because it was going to send us straight to judgment. God's justice is what we were owed. Do you know what we weren't owed? We were not owed his mercy, but in Jesus, we see the perfect justice and mercy of God put on display. Our message is that God is just, and God is merciful, and because of that, we are saved. Amen? Oh, happy day, our sins were washed away because God is just, and God is merciful. And when we live lives that are full of justice and mercy, we're not only bringing benefits to our neighbors, we are putting the God we worship on display. Because when they see justice and mercy in us, they get a small picture of the justice and mercy that is shown up in the Gospel of Jesus.

Recorded in Upland, California.
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Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848