I considered making this another post about the New England Patriots and their unsportsmanlike play of late, and how they would meet the Colts this weekend and face justice. But just as Indianapolis Colts' coach Tony Dungy said after winning last year's Super Bowl, "God doesn't care about football games."
People have asked, in fact I too have asked, how do you know when God's talking to you? I think God's been talking to me, through a series of interesting coincidences over the past few weeks. God's been putting something else, far more important than football in my head the past few days and weeks. The idea of "justice". It all started a few weeks ago when I read (and blogged) about the meaning of justice in Amos 5:21-24, how we should be thinking about where our money goes when we tithe. The idea that God meant for tithing to be used to help the poor, the needy and hungry -- not for the church which is where most of our tithing is spent.
Last Sunday, we had a special guest speaker at church, Ray Barnett. He started reading the scripture he'd be covering and I wasn't even paying attention until I realized he was talking about the same scripture I had just blogged about. Amos 5:21-24. It felt kind of like God smacking me and saying PAY ATTENTION, THIS IS IMPORTANT. So I woke up, and I was riveted by this sermon, about how God didn't care too much about how grand our sanctuary was, awesome worship team, our songs and prayers -- everything inside the church -- unless our church was focused on what was outside of the church. He was talking about Justice.
Throughout the week actually (we had a Missions "Week" at our church), I had been repeatedly bothered by the message they seemed to be saying. They kept saying that if we wanted to help further God's kingdom, we should go overseas. Why do we need to go overseas to help God's people? There are plenty right here at home. It reminded me of this guy I met at Perspectives, who told me his church "trains" their youth for missions, by using Native Missions as a stepping stone to what he called the "real stuff", which was the overseas stuff. I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
That's not to say that those going overseas is not doing the right thing, but I think the senders need to carefully consider what the needs are of this country too, and not just focus on people across the ocean. After all, the rest of the world is sending more missionaries out than North America is. Way more. And many of them are being sent HERE.
I think one of things I absolutely love about my fiancee is that she has a heart for people who need God, regardless of where they are in this world. I'm so thankful that Ina and I see eye-to-eye on this and both have this burning desire to help people.
Saturday night, Ina 'dragged' me out to a worship night at Unionville Alliance Church. We had planned to go all along but I was really tired and still a bit too emotional because of the upcoming funeral for Auntie Jean. She thought it'd do us both some good to enjoy some worship time. I remember thinking I should just do this for her because I am such a great future husband, but deep down thinking I so did not want to be there. I think deep down she knew this was happening but maybe God was nudging her to go. She even suggested that we could leave immediately after the singing.. maybe this was to entice me to go. But anyway we ended up going and staying for the whole thing. And it was again God telling me about justice.
Surprisingly, the worship time wasn't the highlight of the night. There was a segment at the end where they had open-mic time, and allowed people to come up and share about things they were thankful for.
One by one people went up. But I thought what was most striking to me was that the subject of justice came up again and again. There was this one guy who serves in a ministry at Jane & Finch, he said he was thankful to be alive, to have food to eat and water. A perfect Sunday school answer but he said it with conviction, indicating that he meant every word of it. This guy reminded me of Shane Claiborne, or perhaps the image I have of Shane. And it wasn't just him.. various people went up and spoke about justice, about the poor and needy and about how we needed to love them.
There was God, again, talking to me, again saying PAY ATTENTION TO THIS.