When Justice Rolls Down… Like Molasses

When Justice Rolls Down… Like Molasses

This post by Pastor Ronjour first appeared on SpiritualGrit.com.

I have a neighbor who was involved in a verbal fight with a woman in front of his house. In mere minutes she had a group of fifteen at his house hurling obscenities and bricks at his house. He ran into his house and called the police. He is still waiting for their help.

Another neighborhood friend is unemployed and dependent on government assistance to get by. All that he can afford is the low rent halfway houses in the area. Unfortunately he realized that several of them are traps for the underprivileged. When asked why he hasn’t contacted the police, he retorts, “What would they ever do for me?”

We took our kids to a local dentist for a checkup. It was our first time at that particular dentist’s office. Something seemed fishy when the dentist tried to convince us that our children needed multiple fillings and caps for their cavity-ridden teeth. After a second opinion from another dentist, we realized that the former dentist was a scam. We noticed how many parents were taken advantage of by this and other local dentists, how much money they fleeced from regular people who could barely afford an appointment for their kids.

People here are regularly exploited for their addictions, their poverty, their desperation. When they call for help, no one answers. It can be discouraging to live here. It can certainly be discouraging to continue to seek justice in a community with drug-addicted prostitutes walking the streets daily, church members with vehicles stolen right in front of the church building, and the regular hustlers who exploit the Christlike compassion of Christians. Amos 5:24 famously declares, “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” For many of us living in the inner city, however, it seems that this justice rolls down like molasses.

So why are we still here?

We continue to serve because the Lord has called us here, and we seek to be faithful to His calling until He calls us elsewhere.

Yet there is another reason: We continue to serve because the Lord has given us exactly what we need so we would not lose heart when justice’s roll is slow.

In Luke 18 Jesus tells a parable to those growing weary by injustice. A parable is an illustrative story meant to make a point. Luke records why Jesus told this particular parable: “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought to pray and not lose heart” (v.1). Why would they stop praying? Why would they lose heart? The parable helps answer those questions.

The story is about a conversation between two people: A judge who neither fears God nor regards people and a widow who has been wronged (vv.2-3). The widow repeatedly pleads for justice, but the judge, though annoyed, repeatedly rejects her and throws her case out of his court. The widow, however, will not be denied. She must get justice, and the judge is the only one who could grant it to her. Thus, with her options exhausted, she pleads for justice until she exhausts the judge: “For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming” (vv.4-5).

This unjust judge provides the perfect contrast to understand the nature and ways of our God when justice seems slow (vv.6-8).

When justice seems slow, remember…

  • God is not unjust; He is just (vv.6-7). If there is anyone who cares about justice, it is the one true God. “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne” (Ps. 89:14, 97:2). If an unjust judge can be just every once in awhile, how can one doubt that God can give justice?
  • God is not indifferent; He chose us (v.7). The unjust judge had no regard for people and had zero compassion for this widow’s need. The Lord, however, has chosen his people before the foundation of the world to be his adopted children (Eph. 1:3-6). God is not detached from our hurts and sorrows. He hears our every cry and will wipe every tear from our eyes.
  • God does not obstruct justice; He’ll act soon (vv.7-8). The unjust judge only acted when he simply could not take the widow’s pleas any longer. In comparison, God’s delay seems much longer. This does not mean that He has forgotten his children, however. It means that there are wise and good purposes that He must accomplish until then. He will surely act, and when he does, it will be the right time.

We can be assured of each of these truths because our gospel affirms each one. God is so just that the only way that He could give mercy to guilty sinners like us is by satisfying His just demands in the substitutionary sacrifice and imputed righteousness of His Son. God does so because before creation He made up His mind that we sinners would join Him in His joy as His beloved sons and daughters, secured eternally by the resurrected Christ. And when He returns, the Lord will bring final judgment on evil and raise His brothers and sisters to their glorious redemption in the New Jerusalem.

Injustice abounds in the inner city, but we need not lose heart. Through Christ, God is both just and our justifier.

While we wait for justice… 

How do we respond? What do we do in the mean time?

  • Keep praying.

  • Keep hoping in Christ.

  • For though His justice may seem slow, it is absolutely certain.

The next 100 years

The next 100 years

Ronjour's thoughts on pastoring at the 100-year-mark:

 We exist to build and to spread a Christ Culture. A Christ Culture displays and declares the greatness of Christ in all of life, that all may delight in the glory of God. Our joy can only be full and forever when it is in the infinite and eternal Lord. We want all peoples to join us in our joy.

The one true God is spectacularly glorious in his creativity, power, purity, wisdom, might, justice, mercy, and love. Through Christ Jesus' substitutionary death and triumphant resurrection we are reconciled to God to enjoy him forever.

We're on a mission, then, to make much of Christ. We want to display him through personal holiness, genuine community, and heartfelt compassion. We gather together on Sunday mornings as a church family. We gather together in our men's and women's fellowships, and we meet in each other's homes for our community groups. We seek the good of our neighbors, especially those in need. We long to be more like Jesus.

We want to declare Christ through evangelism and missions. We go deep into his Word in preaching and in our Bible studies. We spread the gospel widely across our neighborhood and the nations.

As we show Jesus in our lives and tell of him in our witness, we help our neighbors and the nations— people from every ethnicity, generation, class, and culture— join us in our joy. It is our prayer that by magnifying Christ, God's glory would shine brightly in Brooklyn for the next century and beyond!

Centennial Celebrations

Centennial Celebrations

Schedule of Emphasis on Sundays

9/25   History of Building Improvements

10/2   VBS

10/9   Music Ministry

10/16 Children/Various Ministries

10/23 Pastoral Personnel

10/30 Celebration Sunday

Pastor, Preach in High Definition

Pastor, Preach in High Definition

Pastor Ronjour wrote this article for Midwestern Seminary's blog, For the Church

I don't consider myself an old man just yet, but there are certain things that make me feel old. One such indicator is the television. I remember the days when my siblings and I played the role of the remote control— we had to leave the couch to turn the dial to one of the six or seven channels we had on the rabbit-eared TV. The picture was fuzzy with occasional horizontal lines running up and down the screen, but nonetheless it gave us a window to the world.

I remember when we made the jump to cable and digital TV, which came with its own remote control and a much better picture. I never thought it would get any better until I was introduced to high definition. This was a whole new world. Everything looked so crystal clear. Today, when I walk into a local Best Buy, I see ultra-HD, 4K curved TVs that promise the clearest picture for everyone in your living room.

Whether we talk about our TVs, laptops, phones, or tablets, we love seeing things clearly.

Pastor, this is no different for your congregation. Just as higher resolutions produce a clearer view of the world, so more focused attention on our God will produce a clearer worldview. Very little on TV is worth seeing clearly, but we will not survive without a clear vision of our great God. When you preach, show God in high definition.

The prophet Isaiah recognized this need for God's people. After thirty-nine chapters signaling God's judgment on Israel and the nations, Isaiah gave words of comfort to the exiles. The prophet announced three cries to comfort the exiled people with news of the end of their punishment (Isaiah 40:1-2), the coming of the Lord (40:3-5), and the reliability of his promise (40:6-8). With this vision revealed, Isaiah called the people of Zion to proclaim the good news (I.e., "gospel," v.9) of the coming God to the neighboring cities. Their message was clear: "Behold your God!" The cities were to behold three unique things about God:

First, God has unparalleled wisdom (12-17). This is clearly seen in creation. With laser-like precision he measured out the oceans and the skies, and like a master sculptor he chiseled out the mountains (12). He needed neither a college degree nor YouTube tutorials for such designs or even the structures that order society (13). Given the vastness of the universe God created, why would he consult us tiny humans? Indeed, all of the nations combined would amount to a mere drop in a bucket; they are utterly worthless in educating the omniscient (14-17).

Second, God has unparalleled authority (18-24). Unlike the idols that are totally dependent on their makers (18-20), God sits far above the earth as Creator and Sustainer of all of creation (21-22). He breaks kingdoms, empires, and presidential administrations to pieces by merely blowing on them like dandelions (23-24). Such absolute sovereignty simply has no equal.

Third, God has unparalleled power (25-26). This is seen in his relation to the stars. He is the one who organizes them into their constellations. He holds them together by the strength of his might, and they respond to his voice.

Pastor, help them see God. Why must your people see this God as clearly as possible? The answer is in the final verses (27-31): You have people who don't believe that God sees their situation. They believe that God has forgotten them. They are hopeless. Their health may have shaken their hope. Their financial needs may do it. Their struggles with sin or being sinned against— each one of these things bring static into our world to prevent us from seeing God clearly, and without a clear view of God, we will despair. Each week you have an opportunity to show your people the unparalleled greatness of our God. As you preach, you give your people a glimpse of the God who is their hope.

How can you show them this God? Preach Christ. In Christ the wisdom, power, and sovereignty of God are clearly displayed (Acts 2:22-24; 1 Corinthians 1:22-25; Ephesians 1:19-23), since he is the very image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3) and the mediator to bring us to God (1 Timothy 2:5; 1 Peter 3:18). By preaching Christ in every sermon, you give your people a Most High Definition view of the only God who is a sure hope in this world.