Love and Justice.
Not only is today Valentine’s Day, a day to celebrate love, but it is also Justice Sunday and I’d like us to consider the strong link there is between love and justice.
Valentine’s day -a very special day for some. It’s an opportunity for people and particularly couples, to say, ‘I Iove you.’ I can hear some of you saying that you don’t need a special day for that. Although that’s true it’s also true that we can sometimes take each other for granted and forget to express our love.
Ole and Olga lived on a farm in Iowa. Ole never showed signs of love and affection towards Olga so one day she decided to ask Ole, ‘Why don’t you ever tell me that you love me.’ Ole responded, ‘Olga, when we were married I told you that I loved you, and if I ever change my mind, I’ll let you know.’
It is important that we express our love for one another, whether it’s husband and wife, parents and children, close friends, on a regular basis.
It is also good to affirm our love for God and his love for us for us often. Let us do that just now.
SONG 14 For the beauty of the earth
There are many kinds of love which we see demonstrated in the Bible and the Greek language has the advantage of using different words to talk about love, while English only has one. Eros is romantic love; storge is family love; Philia describes friendship and brotherly love but the greatest love is Agape- divine selfless love that God has for us.
Another word we don’t often hear about is Philautia which is about self love or self worth. This is not a selfish love but realising that we have worth and purpose and the Christian comes to realise this when they discover the unconditional love of God which He showed to us in the person Jesus.
On this day when we celebrate human love I feel there is a strong link between love and justice because we want the best for others.
When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment he replied, ‘ Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’
If we love our neighbour as ourselves we will want the best for them. We will be sensitive to their needs, the things that bring them joy and the things that hurt.
Romans 12: 9-21 Has a description of love and the way it reaches out to others in need.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another I brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practise hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘ It is mine to avenge; I will repay , says the Lord. On the contrary:
‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him:
If he is thirsty give him something to drink. In doing this you will heap coals of fire on his head.’
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
This Bible Reading sets a high standard of love and justice that we should make our goal as a Christian.
Prayer Song 323 Tune 762
Read as a prayer
Lord, hear my prayer, thy power claim;
To love like Christ, is all my aim.
Move, Holy Spirit, come, move in my life,
I want in my loving to be like Christ.
Have you ever used the words , ‘It’s not fair.’ I am sure you have and it’s a word we often hear from children if they think they are not being understood or if things are not going their way. It’s a phrase that we probably use for ourselves rather than on behalf of others. We are quick to feel that we are not being treated as we should and we could even feel that there is no justice.
The lockdown has been hard not only for ourselves but our country and our world. The news has been quick to pick up on things that are unfair or unjust. People have slipped through the net when it comes to receiving payments or grants to help businesses through the lockdown. We can only truly understand if we are in the situation ourselves but if we love our neighbour as our self we will try to understand what others are going through as if it was happening to us. We will then use the words, ‘It’s not fair,’ on behalf of others. It is then that we come close to wanting justice for others.
A well know verse in the Old Testament says,
‘He has shown you, oh mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’
We may sign petitions, even join protests, feel annoyed about injustice but the Lord requires us to make sure that it’s not just about words but that we ourselves ‘act justly’. It should be demonstrated in our own life and behaviour.
We have been touched by those who have been willing to fight for justice for others who were going hungry during the pandemic and to keep going until changes were made. An example was the demand for children to receive free meals through the holidays. Racial justice has been a main feature of recent headlines and once again it involves loving other people without discrimination. It not only affects people of different race and skin colour but also people of different cultures and classes. We may be guilty of injustice when we judge people by their appearance, by where they live or the way we speak.
When Ian and I were at the Salvation Army Training college we became very conscious of our Yorkshire accent, especially in the middle of London. This was reinforced by one of our own cadets who told an officer of a corps to which we had been sent to do a special weekend, ‘You may think the Kerrisons are a bit rough but it’s just their Yorkshire accent.’ We laugh about it now, especially as that cadet was sent as a lieutenant to Bradford!
How easy it is for Judgements to be made about a person that can lead us to treat them unjustly.
May our love for people, which is a result of our experiencing God’s love for ourselves, lead us to treat people fairly and justly and actively seek ways to do that.
I conclude with words of Scripture from Hebrews 13; verses 1 and 3 which confirm the relationship between love and real compassion for others which results in a fairer, more just world.
Keep loving each other as bothers (and sisters) …… Remember those in prisons as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are ill-treated as if you yourselves were suffering.
Song 1007 Let there be love shared among us
Grant us a vision, Lord
To see what we can achieve
To reach our lives with others
To stretch our capabilities
To increase our sense of purpose
To be aware of where we can help
To be sensitive to your Presence
To give heed to your constant call. (David Adam)
Guide us that we may be more sensitive to our neighbour’s needs, the need of old to know they are wanted, the need of the young to know they are listened to, the need of all people to know they are of value. Lord, keep us aware. Women of New Zealand (adapted )
Song 998 God of the poor
Thank you for reading
Written by Major Irene K