Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Our Old Testament reading for the Last Sunday of the Church Year is from Ezekiel 34. In this passage, God himself promises to intervene for the good of his flock. They have endured hardship. Shepherds who were not competent have allowed them to be harassed. They have been deprived of the food and water they need. God calls this injustice.
What is God’s judgment on his weak sheep? He considers their trouble and how they need to be cared for. Those who are weak and troubled will be given a good shepherd, good pasture, and all they need to thrive. What about the strong sheep? Thos who are strong and have been piling up strength at the expense of the weaker sheep will be chastized. They have acted unjustly.
Many in Western culture would like to look at this passage and tell Christians how to live their lives. There’s a lot of hostility out there against Christianity. Often the hostility is manifested when Christians don’t do what those who aren’t Christians think they should do. The Bible speaks about doing justice. If you don’t do justice the way we think you should do justice, you must not be a true Christian.
Granted, occasionally someone will get it right, but almost always by accident. What does the Bible consider doing justice? The justice God calls people to is that of trusting that Jesus, the redeemer of the world, is the one who can care for us and strengthen us. Working justice in others is normally a matter primarily of helping them see that they need to look to God in hope, not that they need to look to earthly provision and change. This is what the good shepherd works in his flock. Whenever the Church has gone off course through history it has involved getting our eyes off of the idea of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ to bring forgiveness of sin in precisely the way revealed in the Scripture. May the Lord correct us where we are failing.
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