Bending Toward Justice

Psalm 19
Matthew 5:17-48
the law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul, and making wise the simple

Martin Luther King famously wrote that, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” He wrote it in the context of how we, by our mortality, are limited from seeing the full fate of human history. We live a few decades on this planet and then step into the unknown. For someone as intimately involved in lifting oppression as he was, it was important to have faith that our human story was headed towards justice. It reminds me of the mathematical shape known as a parabola. Where we begin the journey seems terribly far from the ideal line. But almost imperceptibly, it bends towards what is good, and faithful, and true. Martin Luther King, and all who truly work for justice, knew that our current experience may give little evidence of how God’s grace governs the whole line. That doesn’t mean that we are on the wrong path, or that evil will win in the end.

With this in mind, there’s one more thing to be said about Psalm 19 (see http://billkemp.info/content/god-speaks-triplicate). The only way that the law of the LORD can be perfect, reviving the soul, and making wise the simple, is if that law is dynamic and constantly developing. There is a heresy afoot in the church today that closes the door on God’s ongoing revelation, that is, denies that God is speaking through modern figures such as Martin Luther King, while dismissing the moaning of the God’s creation as it speaks about climate change. Some of the these heretics have diminished the diversity of God’s word down to some dusty fundamentals and a few ancient rules. But in Matthew 5, Jesus had a different understanding about God’s previous revelations. He says, “You have heard it said…. (here he would name a Mosaic rule concerning murder, adultery, lying, etc.), but I say to you… (then he would state a new standard that required us to be more loving and just). If you want to be perfect, you depart from the old rules and start paying attention to where God is headed.  Follow Jesus long enough and you find yourself bending towards the pursuit of justice.

The beauty of Psalm 19 is that it reminds us of the big picture. We struggle with our little piece of life’s puzzle, but God sees the whole picture and it is in it for the long run. The sweetness of God’s word, does not lie in the inerrancy of the KJV, but in taste of that eternal victory that is given to us whenever we read scripture.

There is optimism in everything King said, because he believed in the moral arc bending to Justice
Pentecost 19