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Digging Deeper into the Word Spiritual Development Studying the Bible

All in Love

Author: Rachel Kidd

Do everything in love. 

Corinthians 16:14 

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. 

Proverbs 17:17 

We all have an innate, God-given desire to love and to be loved by others. As infants, we need the loving touch and tender words of our parents and caregivers to grow. As children, we need unconditional love and acceptance, and loving discipline as we develop. As teenagers and adults, we need the loving support of community in order to thrive. Romantic love brings joy to marriage and loving your own children as a parent is another layer to that love.  

We also have a God who loves us, so deeply and unconditionally. He created love for us, calling us to love one another and treat each other well, as He loved us. Love in the modern context can seem dulled, a cheap alternative to what God designed for us. We see love over and over again in the scriptures, a constant reminder of God’s will for us; love for eachother and for Him. But is all love created equal?  

The Four Loves

There are four types of love that align with God’s design. C.S. Lewis explored these types in his 1960 book, “The Four Loves.”2 He begins his study of love with an introduction to St. John’s famous declaration; God is love. Lewis warns against conflating the two, love and God, without a safeguard in place.  

St. John’s saying that God is love has long been balanced in my mind against the remark of a modern author (M. Denis de Rougemont) that “love ceases to be a demon only when he ceases to be a god” ; which of course can be restated in the form “begins to be a demon the moment he begins to be a god.” This balance seems to me an indispensable safeguard. If we ignore it the truth that God is love may slyly come to mean for us the converse, that love is God (Lewis, 17).   

Affection (Greek: Storge) 

Affection is comfortable love, the nostalgia you feel in your hometown or the safety of your mother’s embrace. Often associated with the love children have for their parents and parents for their children, storge is rather undiscerning and does not rely on attraction or compatibility.  

Lewis called storge love humble, the kind of love that lives with “un-dress, private things; soft slippers, old clothes, old jokes, the thump of a sleepy dog’s tail on the kitchen floor, the sound of a sewing-machine…” (Lewis, 56-57).  It is the love of the mundane, the people you see so often they become important features in your life, like pets or coworkers.  

Friendship (Greek: Philia) 

Friendship can also be overlooked in our culture, overshadowed by family or romantic connections. But, deep connections with friends and a strong community can be incredibly fulfilling. Lewis explained that “to the Ancients, friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all loves; the crown of life and the school of virtue. The modern world, in comparison, ignores it” (Lewis, 87). Unlike other types of relationships that are formed out of pure necessity or chance, friendship is a conscious decision made out of simple desire. Lewis described friendship as that luminous, tranquil, rational world of relationships freely chosen. You got away from all that: This alone, of all the loves, seemed to raise you to the level of gods or angels” (Lewis, 93).   

We enjoy companionship and so we create it. Often, we form friendships with others based on common interests and shared values. We build close bonds with friends overtime, supporting each other through hardships and celebrating successes.  

Romance (Greek: Eros) 

Beyond simple sexual desire for the act, “Eros wants the Beloved”. To be in eros love is to desire one person, to love them fully. C.S. Lewis says that lovers are “absorbed in each other”. 

While we are cautioned to be careful with romantic love, Lewis also tells us that eros love is a beautiful picture of Christ’s love for the church.   

“In one high bound it has overleaped the massive wall of our selfhood; it has made appetite itself altruistic, tossed personal happiness aside as a triviality and planted the interests of another in the centre of our being… It is an image, a foretaste, of what we must become to all if Love Himself rules in us without a rival” (Lewis, 126).  

When we love our spouse in this way, we get a taste of what it means to love so completely and better understand God’s love for us. Lewis describes it eros as having the unique ability to “obliterate the distinction between giving and receiving” (Lewis, 137).   

Charity (Greek: Agape)  

The love of mankind or agape love is the ultimate goal, to love others as God loves us. It is unconditional and eternal, forgiving and true. Agape love is something deeper than what Lewis calls the other three “natural loves.” It goes beyond a feeling, it is “goodness… the whole Christian life in one particular relation” (Lewis, 163).  

It is the beauty and curse of being human, the nature of love and the pain of loss that Lewis explains is God-willed.  “Even if it were granted that insurances against heartbreak were our highest wisdom, does God Himself offer them? Apparently not. Christ comes at last to say “Why hast thou forsaken me?”” (Lewis, 169). 

Five Love Languages 

People give and receive love in different ways. Knowing how you love best is important to feeling secure in your relationships. Being conscious of how your friends, family, and significant other receive love improves relationships by reducing conflict and improving emotional intimacy.  

The Five Love Languages were developed by counselor Dr. Gary Chapman to help people improve their relationships by better understanding their unique personalities and needs.  

  1. Physical Touch. A hug from your best friend, a kiss from your spouse, or the cuddles from your dog make you feel loved and secure.  
  1. Acts of Service. When your loved one does something to make your life easier, like picking up dinner for the family on their way home or doing the laundry, makes you feel supported.  
  1. Quality Time. Quality over quantity, you value uninterrupted time with your loved ones and the ability to connect with them in person.  
  1. Words of Affirmation. Encouraging and positive words make you feel valued in relationships.  
  1. Receiving Gifts. When your loved ones take the time to pick out a gift that they know you’ll love, you feel understood and connected with that person.  

Take the Five Love Languages Quiz3 and find out your love language. This is a great quiz to take with your partner, as a family, or even with friends to improve understanding and communication in your relationship.  

Love and Loss 

In an incredibly powerful conclusion to “Four Loves,” Lewis urges us to love, even though it makes us vulnerable to heartbreak and pain. In fact, he says that avoiding love in fear of the pain it may cause, only further separates us from God.  

There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell. 

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Digging Deeper into the Word Spiritual Development

Beyond Rituals: Embracing True Worship in John 4

Author: Charles Hegwood

The term ‘worship wars’ has become a prominent and sometimes heated discussion topic within certain Christian circles. While it may be tempting to reduce worship to a debate about musical preferences, we can learn from Jesus how He defines true worship in His conversation with the Samaritan Woman. When reflecting on John 4, we should take the time to think critically about our forms of worship and strive to deepen our understanding of what God desires in our practice. Are we worshiping God in spirit and truth? Are we seeking Jesus as our source of life? Both of these questions jump from the pages of John 4 and are worthy of our consideration regarding worship and life.  

The Samaritan Woman at the Well 

As Jesus and his disciples journeyed, weariness set in. Thirsty and hungry, the disciples ventured off to find food while Jesus rested at a nearby well. Then, a Samaritan woman approached, unaware that her meeting with Jesus would transform not only her life but also the lives of all those around her. She was about to encounter the source of living water; Jesus.  

Why was this meeting between Jesus and a Samaritan woman such a big deal? You see there was hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans. The Samaritans had intermarried with the deported exiles of other lands under the Assyrian Empire. The result was centuries of mutual hatred and cultural disgust. This sets up an earth-shaking encounter between Jesus who is a Jewish man and a woman from Samaria.  

As we briefly look at the following conversation we will see that Jesus used practical images to make spiritual parallels. He is at a well. He asked the Samaritan woman for water, but the conversation went from practical to spiritual. Jesus began talking about living water. He was telling the woman that He was the source of this living water. People went to the well for life-sustaining water but they would have to come back. What Jesus offered was radically different. The water He offered would be a spring that travels with you. This well is not fixed to one location. 

The woman is interested but still does not fully grasp it. And again the conversation moves from practical to spiritual. Jesus tells her about her life’s current condition. She was living in sin and she knew it and Jesus knew it. What she did not know is that she was speaking to the one whom all of the Scripture foreshadowed. He was the one whom every part of Scripture whispered His name. Then the conversation shifted to worship. The woman asked about worship location. She worshiped on a mountain, and the Jews worshiped in Jerusalem. “Who is right?” she asked. But Jesus again took the conversation from a practical location to a spiritual one. The conversation ends with the woman telling the village that Jesus was the Messiah and Jesus stayed for two days teaching the people. 

Living Water and True Worship 

Did you catch it? As we ask the question of what is true worship in an age of ‘worship wars’ we must lock in on what Jesus said here. They are having a conversation at a well. A well was and is a location you go to receive life-sustaining water. Now compare this truth with what Jesus is saying. He offered living water that “will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” That is something you can take with you wherever you go. 

The true issue the woman seems to have with worship is location.  For the woman, it was the mountain she worshiped on and for the Jews it was Jerusalem they worshiped. These were like the spiritual wells people went to receive thirst-quenching spiritual water. And yet they would have to return to the spiritual well in a set location. Jesus offered the woman living water that removes the need for a location. Living water goes with you wherever you go. Jesus is saying the location does not matter, instead it is the source and object of worship that matters. It is no longer about a mountain or a city but a person; Jesus. Worshiping in spirit and truth must start with following Jesus and thus receiving living water.  

God is not seeking people who worship at a certain location, but people who seek Him in spirit and truth. The heart of your worship is far more important than the location and mode. People must seek God as the ultimate source of spiritual nourishment and satisfaction. People who worship in spirit and truth seek the Father over the things of this world.  

Living Water and Our Worship 

As I have already said, true worshipers seek to worship God wherever they go. He then becomes their source of spiritual life. But how does this relate to what style of worship we partake in? Again, let us as Jesus did, move the conversation from practical to spiritual.  

 Instead of location, insert musical style. Our worship of the one true God should overshadow our preferences in musical choice. That is not to say that the music style is unimportant. There is a place to evaluate certain music, lyrics, and styles. What I am saying is that we must lock in on the theme of this passage, which is that our worship must find its source in Jesus as our living water and seek Him in spirit and truth. 

Worship is a central part of our relationship with God, and encompasses much more than music or singing. It’s something that should be done throughout the day, in how we talk to others, interact with friends, and how to act when no one is watching. It is in our reading of Scripture, prayer time, and sharing of our faith. It encompasses all parts of our lives. True worship makes God the foundation and object of everything we do. Let us reflect on some questions. Are we seeking spiritual fulfillment from Christ or from somewhere else? Is true worship being offered in spirit and truth from us? These are who the Father seeks. Are you one? 

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Spiritual Development Studying the Bible

Faith & Doubt

Author: Rachel Kidd

Part of growing up is coming to terms with big questions and what the answers mean for your life. I was raised by two faithful Christian parents, who were each raised by two faithful Christian parents of their own. I come from a legacy of people with strong convictions and rock-solid foundations of truth. I went to church every Sunday and youth group every Sunday night nearly my entire life. And yet, I doubt.

Ever since I could read, I had questions. Really, even before that- I’ve been questioning authority since I learned to talk. “Why?” I would ask my mom and dad, “why do I have to eat my broccoli?” “Why do I have to go to school?” “Why do I have two little brothers and no sisters?” My grandparents like to tell stories of my defiant personality as a toddler. Once, after playing with a new baby doll my Nana had bought to be played with at her house, I tried to take the baby home with me. She stopped me at the door and asked me to leave it there. I hugged the baby doll close and said, “share Nana, share!” I clearly understood the concept, asserting my own understanding above the authority in front of me. My grandmother of course laughed, but took the baby back anyway.

As I got older, my questions became more complex, as did the answers. Sometimes, I couldn’t even find the answer to satisfy my question, no matter how fervent my search. “Why does God let horrible things happen?” “Why do some Christians do horrible things in the name of God?” “Is there more to life than this, than what I can see?” Often, I wasn’t satisfied with the standard answers spouted at youth group or Sunday School. I asked my dad, one of the smartest people I know, who has a doctorate in theology and a seminary degree. Sometimes, even he didn’t know, or his answer wouldn’t make sense to me. I prayed for answers, read theological texts and scripture, discussed with other believers and non-believers alike. I wanted clarity, concrete answers to my big questions. To this day, it has yet to come.

Can we be faithful while still having doubt?

I have many, many unanswered questions and doubts. And yet, I can still be a believer. Faith is not dependent on having it all figured out. God doesn’t need us to be 100% sure of everything. It is impossible to fully understand why God chooses to act in the ways He does or why He allows evil to persist on earth for the time being. Yet, in choosing to worship Him and follow Him anyway, we are acting in faith.

Faith is believing despite not seeing.

Mary’s Faith

Mary asked the angel, “How can this be? I’m a virgin.”

The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come to you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy child developing inside you will be called the Son of God.

“Elizabeth, your relative, is six months pregnant with a son in her old age. People said she couldn’t have a child. But nothing is impossible for God.”

Mary answered, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let everything you’ve said happen to me.”

Luke 1:34-38

When the angel appeared to young Mary, she was a virgin. She understood it was physically impossible for her to become pregnant, even when the words came from the mouth of a heavenly angel. She asks the angel, “how can this be?” He tells her that she will conceive the Son of God through the power of the Holy Spirit, reassuring her that even what is impossible, is made possible by God.

Mary, I can imagine, was scared and confused, struggling to understand what the angel said. And yet, she chooses to act in faith anyway. Without fully understanding, Mary says yes, “I am the Lord’s servant.”

Peter and Doubt

Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

Matthew 14:28-31

We see Peter as a figure with a great deal of insecurity and fear that he grapples with throughout the Gospel. Despite being a close disciple of Jesus, he betrays Him three times the night of His death. He acts in violence in the Garden of Gethsemane. And he sinks in the Sea of Galilee.

Peter calls out to Jesus, testing him by asking him to let him walk on water too. Jesus tells him to come, allowing Peter to walk on the water’s surface. And yet, despite being a part of this miracle, Peter’s fear of the storm causes him to sink. He doubts Jesus and His power to control the very wind and waves He created. As Peter sinks and starts to drown, he calls out desperately to Jesus, asking to be saved. Jesus pulls him up, but challenges Peter’s lack of faith.

Because Peter allowed his fears, or doubts, to overcome his faith, he began to sink. Jesus reminds him, and us today, that faith keeps us afloat. Doubting God’s power causes us to stumble, leading us astray and to potential dangers. Faith causes us to experience the power and wonder of God.

The Cursed Fig Tree

Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.

When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked.

Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

Matthew 21:18-22

While some may read this passage as a funny story of a hungry Jesus who becomes angry at a fig tree without any figs, we should moreover see the power of faith. Jesus tells the disciples that faith without doubt is immensely powerful. Faith can make disappointing fig trees shrivel up and die, it can make mountains throw themselves into the sea, and it can bring answered prayers.

Throughout each of these stories, we see faith in the miraculous birth of Christ, in Peter’s walk on water, and in the cursing of the fig tree. Mary may have been afraid and confused, but her faith allowed the great miracle of Jesus to be performed through her. Peter, while faithful in many other ways, fell short as he walked on the sea towards Jesus. His doubt prevented him from truly experiencing the gravity of his experience with Christ on the stormy sea. Through scripture, we see God rewarding the faithful and rebuking the doubters. Even when the faithful are frightened and don’t fully comprehend the magnitude of what God is asking them, their faith carries them through.

Abraham in Genesis 22:12-14 is another example. When God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son that he had waited so many long years for, Abraham doesn’t understand. He is terrified of losing his beloved son. And yet, he takes Issac up the mountain to die anyway. Because of his faithfulness, God blesses Abraham.

“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

Genesis 22:12-14

Abraham demonstrates that when we act in faith, even when we don’t understand, God provides. He takes care of His faithful followers, blessing them for their strong faith.

Today, while I may not be taking baby dolls from my Nana’s house anymore, I still hate being told what to do. I like to think that I am competent and wise, but usually, my parent’s advice is far better than my own wisdom. I am still learning to heed the advice of people wiser than me, still learning to act in faith to God’s commands, especially when I don’t understand them. I only hope to walk in the faithful legacy left for me by my parents and grandparents, and the great faith-bearers of the bible like Mary and Abraham.

Categories
Digging Deeper into the Word Spiritual Development

A Grace-Based Life

Author: Rachel Kidd

What is Grace? 

Grace is a word that so often appears in Christian texts and worship music, a word that permeates the scripture so profoundly. I think it’s also a word that is used so frequently, that its meaning is dulled. We often think of grace as an unwarranted and undeserved favor.  

So, what is grace, in all its God-intended glory?  

Grace is a generous gift from God that is freely given, unexpected, and undeserved.  

Verses on Grace 

These verses explore the scriptural definition and concept of grace more fully and they will help us understand the broader context through which God’s grace is given.  

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 

Ephesians 2:8–9  

Here in Ephesians, Paul describes grace not just as God’s favor upon those who have sinned, but also as a power. We see God’s grace not only as the offer of salvation, but also the means through which salvation is secured.  

 Paul also used “saved” in this context, referring to deliverance from eternal judgment.1 The refrain “by grace you have been saved” is repeated from Ephesians 2:5 for emphasis. The Greek for “have been saved” is sesōsmenoi, translating to properly, deliver out of danger and into safety; used principally of God rescuing believers from the penalty [of death].2  

Likewise, faith is used here as an act of trust and reliance on God. The Greek pronoun is neuter, while “grace” and “faith” are feminine.3 The emphasis on the “this” or the act of salvation by grace and through faith, creates emphasis on who is doing the action. It is not something we can do alone, rather it can only be accomplished by God Himself.  

Understanding the use of the neuter pronoun here makes it evident that faith and grace in conjunction are gifts from God, making salvation a divine act that is not of our own doing.  

The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. —Romans 5:20–21 

Most Jews in Paul’s time would have understood the law’s purpose to be to counteract human tendency towards sin, or the yetzer, which must be properly channeled.4 Rabbinic wisdom says “the more Torah the more life.5”  

 In contrast, Paul indicates that the law came in to increase trespass, not to decrease it. Once the people were given written laws from God, they understood in a concrete way the manner in which they were intended to live. Now, their sins were tangible and willful disobedience, much like Adam and Eve’s transgression in Genesis against God’s direct command.  

 And yet, Paul says that Christ’s salvation is shown in that grace abounded even more than these increasing sins. This tells us the immense power of salvation, that it can cover even the most egregious of transgressions against God’s law.  

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 

2 Corinthians 12:9–10 

My grace is sufficient.  

Paul says that God’s grace is sufficient in the present tense, emphasizing the abundance and the completeness of God’s grace. It is freely given to all believers, even the ones who are insecure in their weakness. I find this incredibly comforting, resting in the knowledge that even in my weakest moments, God’s grace is more than sufficient.  

Paul says that God’s power is most evident and perfect in the weakness of man. Paul’s own imperfections and past failings became the stage for God to showcase His great power and grace. Because of this, Paul says he is able to boast of his own weaknesses and suffer gladly through persecution. We see an example of God’s great work in Paul’s life, transforming him from a persecutor of Christians to an apostle and church leader. God’s power forever altered the course of Paul’s life, and God’s granting of his power to Paul for the work of missions and ministry, were two things  Paul never fails to admit or be thankful for.  

Living in Grace 

Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. – Luke 6:22 

Even in the face of persecution, Jesus modeled grace. He tells His disciples to do the same, blessing even the ones that hate and curse them for their beliefs. It seems impossible to do, to be so kind to even the most hateful people. And without God, it certainly is.  

Understanding the abundance and power of God’s grace is the first step in living a grace based life. Without the Holy Spirit and Christ’s salvation, leading in grace is nearly impossible on our own. Without grace, we are stuck in a cycle of desperately trying to live up to expectations we can never fulfill and getting down on ourselves for failing. Instead, a life with Jesus and His abounding grace offers contentment, a comfort in knowing that He is always good enough. We need the grace of God working in our own hearts and lives first, transforming us like He did Paul.  

Becoming a Believer in Christ and accepting the gift of God’s grace means a divine softening of the heart. It changes the way we think, as the Holy Spirit sanctifies our desires to align with God’s. Loving our neighbors as ourselves becomes easier as we spend more time in scripture, in prayer, and in fellowship with other believers. We begin to see grace as something to naturally be extended to others, as God so freely gave it to us.  

Categories
Digging Deeper into the Word Spiritual Development

Biblical Justice

Author: Rachel Kidd

What is Justice?  

The word justice carries many connotations for people, including social justice concerns and the judicial system. What justice means also varies depending on cultural and geographic context, carrying a very different connotation in the West versus Eastern cultures, for example.  

Philosophers like Plato and Aristotle saw justice as the aspirational ideal for society and the individual.1 In the Old Testament, the Hebrew words for justice, sedeq and misphat, provide distinction between interhuman justice and individual justice, both of which were seen as divine commandments.2 Sedeq is a broad, social distributive justice, while misphat is vindication or restoration for an individual, whether wrongfully accused or targeted.3 The absence of justice in Old Testament understanding meant a separation from God.  

In the New Testament, justice is referred to in the Hebrew dikaisyone, or righteousness and justice. It is most frequently used to understand one’s relationship with God rather than social relationships.4 Distributive justice refers to the redistribution of wealth as dictated in the Gospels, as understood by theologians such as Basil and Chrysostom.5  

Alexandrian Christianity understood the just individual as a desired character trait, although later Augustonian theology believed human nature to be incapable with the concept of justice.6 Justice is divine in most Christian contexts and is therefore perfect and complete.  

Cultural connotations of justice vary broadly. Interhuman justice, as interpreted by Latin American Liberation theology, understands divine justice as only fully actualized when the most vulnerable are protected and cared for. Likewise, intersectional feminist understanding of justice includes all marginalized people groups and warrants impartial treatment, free from bias based on race or gender.7   

No matter your theological leaning, justice is at its core, a divine understanding of how to treat others with respect and an impartial determination of what is just. God is just and His scripture tells us how to lead with justice.  

Jesus and Justice 

Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers

—Matthew 21:12-13 

In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.  

—John 2:14-15 

When I think of a righteous and just intervention in the New Testament, I first think of this scene, described in Matthew and John. We see Jesus entering the temple, filled with righteous anger. He sees the section of the temple designated for non-Jews or Gentiles to pray, overrun with salesmen and money changers. Instead of creating a welcoming place for all people to be able to pray and worship, the temple had become exploitative and consumed with profit.  

 We see Jesus angry, but not in a vindictive way. He is angry for the exploited and the vulnerable, stepping in to prevent those in power from harming the least of these. 

How can we direct our righteous anger for good like Jesus does?  

How do we pursue Godly justice in our Lives? 

The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. 

“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. 

“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, 

“‘From the lips of children and infants 

you, Lord, have called forth your praise?’” 

And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night. 

—-Matthew 21:14-17 

After Jesus overturns the tables of the money changers, He heals people who come to Him at the temple. He turns from a moment of anger to one of healing, demonstrating incredible control over His emotions. He is deliberate and intentional in His actions and His words, modeling for us how to pursue justice. He does not do one without the other, he couples action with healing. 

What does both action and healing look like for us today? I see this in organizations like Shared Hope International, a Christian ministry committed to ending child sex trafficking. They pursue justice through judicial means, working towards legislation fighting human trafficking and educating law enforcement, while also rescuing and caring for survivors. They work on both ends, working with survivors of sex trafficking towards restoration and prosecuting the perpetrators of these heinous crimes. You cannot achieve justice as Jesus demonstrated, without both action and restoration.