Martin Luther King, Jr., is a man of faith that I have long admired. Most people only think about Dr. King for his leadership in the Civil Rights movement and forget about his deep faith and biblical understandings. King once said, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” Throughout the Hebrew Bible we hear God chastise the people not only for practicing injustices, but also for seeing injustices occur and doing nothing about them. God wants us to look beyond our front porches and care about all people.
John Wesley talks about the means of grace in two ways: 1) works of piety and 2) works of mercy. Works of piety tend to be the things we do at home or in the church building – worship, Bible study, prayer, sharing in the sacraments, healthy living, and so on. Works of mercy tend to be the things we do for others – visiting the sick and those in prison, feeding the hungry, working with the poor, seeking justice, ending oppression/discrimination, and doing good works for others.
During the season of Lent, I spend extra time reflecting on my relationship with God. However, I find that when I reflect on my relationship with God, I also find myself thinking about my relationships with other people. Not just the people in my home or at church, but all people. How am I, as a Christian, making life better for others? Am I living a life of complacency or am I doing something to honor God and honor God’s people? Am I allowing my works of piety to inspire and lead me to works of mercy?
We are introduced to the servant of God in Isaiah 42:1-9. As Christians we read this passage with the understanding that Jesus is the servant Isaiah describes. But what if we read that passage thinking of ourselves as the servant being described? After all, if Jesus is the servant, and we are to imitate Jesus, then we are the ones who need to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world today. We are the ones who have to do the works of mercy that bring about justice.
Before worship tomorrow, practice a work of piety. Read this passage as if you are the servant of God who brings justice to the nations through your works of mercy. Think on the life of Jesus Christ and how you can imitate him through the rest of Lent.
Rev. Heather Herrin Wong, Pastor of Senior Adult Ministry