The [Awe-Inspiring] God of the Vulnerable // The God of Moses

During the recording this week’s gathering there was a malfunction of the recording equipment and a significant portion of the teaching is missing. Below is a description of the missing portion based on sermon notes.

To read the missing portion of the Biblical story of Naaman that is missing, refer to 2 Kings 5:1-16.

Following this narrative, John also went on to say that this God of the Bible, who does not take bribes, shocks people in another way: by aligning himself with and being for “the quartet of the vulnerable” (described by philosopher and liturgical theologian, Nicholas Wolterstorff): the widow, the fatherless, the foreigner, and the poor.

How do we know this? Where does he tell us? All over the Scriptures. John read these verses and we reflected:

This is what the Lord Almighty said: “Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. (Zechariah 7:9-10a)

I, the Lord, command you to do what is just and right. Protect the person who is being cheated from the one who is cheating him. Do not ill-treat or oppress foreigners, orphans, or widows; and do not kill innocent people in this holy place. (Jeremiah 22:3)

No, the Lord has told us what is good. What he requires of us is this: to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with our God. (Micah 6:8)

Learn to do right. See that justice is done — help those who are oppressed, give orphans their rights, and defend widows. (Isaiah 1:17)

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind; to set free the oppressed and announce that the time has come when the Lord will save his people.” (Luke 4:18-19)

Don’t take advantage of the poor just because you can; don’t take advantage of those who stand helpless in court. The Lord will argue their case for them and threaten the life of anyone who threatens theirs. (Proverbs 22:22-23)

Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. (Proverbs 14:31)

I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy. (Psalm 140:12)

Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—he remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. (Psalm 146:5-9)

In light of this, we must ask ourselves four questions:

  1. Do we let our human categories limit the God of the universe?

  2. How are we using our privilege? God says to the Israelites - I choose you. God says the same thing about you. The God of the universe looks down at us and says - Mine. I choose you to reflect my face to the world This means you have privilege.

    1. Three ways we can waste our privilege: 

      1. We’re arrogant and not gracious. We count our privilege as a right, something we’ve earned rather than something that’s been given to us by grace 

      2. We get too tied up in trying to measure our privilege. He didn’t turn His face to us so we could waste it with intramural debate

      3. We are privileged but scared to use it. We don’t trust that He is who He says He is, and that is he with us and for us

  3. How are we known? Christianity is often delineated by what we believe - but this is about how we’re known - how we act in the world. 

    “Justice is the sign that you have been justified by faith. It’s not the basis, you aren’t justified because you’re helping the poor, but a heart poured out in deeds of mercy and justice for the poor is a sign that you have been saved by grace.” - Tim Keller

    John shared that one of the things he loves about this community is the way so many of us are living out our faith in the work of justice and care for the vulnerable:

    “For those of you who adopt or foster children or provide respite care, for those of you who mentor youth, for those of you working on the DTES, for those of you give to benevolence, for those of you who are part of MoveIn, for all of you who support all these people, you do the Lord’s work. And in this passage the God of all Gods, the King of all Kings sees your work and labour as His work and labour. He sees it, and it reflects Him into the world in the way He wants to be known. Don’t give up - God is with you.”