sábado, fevereiro 19, 2011

Generous Justice: How God's Grace Makes Us Just (Timothy Keller)

O novo livro de Tim Keller seria uma retomada de um dos seus primeiros livros,  MINISTRIES OF MERCY, há uma retomada do assunto de justica social, para o autor, está ligado ao entendimento do evangelho.

O livro tem como subtítulo COMO A GRAÇA DE DEUS NOS FAZ JUSTOS, o texto apresenta uma forte defesa para o envolvimento do cristão no serviço de justiça social, que de forma alguma minaria a propagação do evangelho no mundo.

Como o próprio autor coloca exisitiria outro comando na Bíblia mais forte em termos e mais peremptoriamente urgente que ajudar aos pobres? Uma preocupação com a justiça em todos os aspectos da vida não é nem uma adição artificial e nem uma contradição com a mensagem da bíblia.

O que acontece e existe é o simples fato que as classes mais baixas não estão apenas desproporcionalmente mais vulneráveis para a injustiça, mas que são costumeiramente as vítimas atuais de injustiça. Mesmo a injustiça, ela não é não dividida proporcionalmente. Nós temos que ter uma forte preocupação para com os pobres, mas a idéia de justiça da bíblia não para ai.


Na bíblia, a palavra tzadeqah se refere ao vida diária da pessoa que conduz todos seus relacionamentos na família e na sociedade de maneira justa, generosa e igualitária. 

Justo como Israel foi uma comunidade de justiça, então a igreja está para refletir as mesmas preocupações para com os pobres. A preocupação de Deus com os pobres é tão forte que ele deu a Israel um monte de leis que, se praticadas, haveriam virtualmente eliminado qualquer classe inferior permanente.

Paulo ensina que o dinheiro que nós temos é tanto um presente de Deus como o maná que foi dado como presente aos israelitas no deserto.  

Paul teaches that the money we have is as much a gift of God as the manna was a gift to the Israelites in the desert. Though some are more able “gatherers”—that is, some are better at making money than others—the money you earn is a gift of God. Therefore, the money you make must be shared to build up community. So wealthier believers must share with poorer ones, not only within a congregation but also across congregations and borders. (See 2 Corinthians 8:15 and its context.)

The three causes of poverty, according to the Bible, are oppression, calamity, and personal moral failure.

He does not call everyone to bring sacrifices of the same kind and value, for that would have automatically make it easier for the rich to please God. Instead, God directs that each person should bring what they can, and if their heart is right, that will give them access to his grace.

The patronage system was characterized by neither compassion nor justice. It did not unite a society divided by class and race—it sustained the status quo. Jesus’s ethic of love attacked the world system at its root.

“The disposition of one’s possessions signifies the disposition of one’s heart.”55 The purification of the heart through grace and love for the poor are of a piece; they go together in the theology of Jesus.

“When you ignored the poor, you ignored me.” This meant that one’s heart attitude toward the poor reveals one’s heart attitude toward Christ.

“There should be no poor among you” (Deuteronomy 15:4). This was the pinnacle of the “social righteousness” legislation of the Old Testament, which expressed God’s love for the vulnerable and his zeal to see poverty and want eliminated.

It is only if we truly see the love God requires in his law that we will be willing and able to receive the love God offers in his gospel of free salvation through Jesus. Jesus was encouraging the man to seek the grace of God.

he was asking each listener to imagine himself to be a victim of violence, dying, with no hope if this Samaritan did not stop and help.

Before you can give this neighbor-love, you need to receive it. Only if you see that you have been saved graciously by someone who owes you the opposite will you go out into the world looking to help absolutely anyone in need. Once we receive this ultimate, radical neighbor-love through Jesus, we can start to be the neighbors that the Bible calls us to be.

The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. . . . This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner—no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. . . .81

God sees economically comfortable people abstaining from food, “going without” for a day or two, but not being willing to abstain from exploiting their workers. Though they demonstrate the external sign of belief in grace—fasting—their lives reveal that their hearts have not been changed.

There is a righteousness which Paul calls “the righteousness of faith.” God imputes it to us apart from our works. . . . [Now] though I am a sinner in myself, with regard to the moral law, . . . yet in that righteousness I have no sin, no sting of conscience, no fear of death. I have another righteousness and life above this life, which is Christ the Son of God.86

“We are saved by faith alone, but not by a faith that remains alone. True faith will always produce a changed life.”

Imagine that you have no job, no money, you live cut off from the rest of society in a world ruled by poverty and violence, your skin is the “wrong” color—and you have no hope that any of this will change. Around you is a society governed by the iron law of achievement. Its gilded goods are flaunted before your eyes on TV screens, and in a thousand ways society tells you every day that you are worthless because you have no achievement. You are a failure, and you know that you will continue to be a failure because there is no way to achieve tomorrow what you have not managed to achieve today. Your dignity is shattered and your soul is enveloped in the darkness of despair. But the gospel tells you that you are not defined by outside forces. It tells you that you count; even more, that you are loved unconditionally and infinitely, irrespective of anything you have achieved or failed to achieve. Imagine now this gospel not simply proclaimed but embodied in a community. Justified by sheer grace, it seeks to “justify” by grace those declared “unjust” by a society’s implacable law of achievement. Imagine, furthermore, this community determined to infuse the

The next level is development. This means giving an individual, family, or entire community what they need to move beyond dependency on relief into a condition of economic self-sufficiency. In

“Development,” of course, is far more time consuming, complex, and expensive than relief.

“The division into different people groups with different languages was a consequence of human disobedience.”

Racial prejudice is wrong because it is a denial of the very principle that all human beings are equally sinful and saved by only the grace of God. A deep grasp of the gospel of grace, Paul says, should erode our racial biases.

Churches and Christian organizations must not be wooden and mechanical, yet they will have to come up with some agreed-upon guidelines, or find themselves endlessly arguing.

deed ministry can consist of three levels—relief, development, and reform. Will your church be sticking to relief type efforts only, or will it try ministries within the more ambitious and complex levels? Will your church work almost exclusively with needy individuals and their families, or will it seek to reach out to particular needy classes of people, such as the homebound elderly, or youth who need tutoring, or prisoners and ex-offenders?  

I propose a different way to understand evangelism and social justice. They should exist in an asymmetrical, inseparable relationship.
But, as we have seen, doing justice is inseparably connected to preaching grace.

One way is that the gospel produces a concern for the poor. The other is that deeds of justice gain credibility for the preaching of the gospel. In other words, justification by faith leads to doing justice, and doing justice can make many seek to be justified by faith.

The experience of salvation led to generosity to the poor, which led to more people becoming open to the message of salvation.

many Christians who care intensely about evangelism see the work of doing justice as a distraction for Christians that detracts from the mission of evangelism. That is also a grave error.

When a city perceives a church as existing strictly and only for itself and its own members, the preaching of that church will not resonate with outsiders. But if neighbors see church members loving their city through astonishing, sacrificial deeds of compassion, they will be much more open to the church’s message. Deeds of mercy and justice should be done out of love, not simply as a means to the end of evangelism. And yet there is no better way for Christians to lay a foundation for evangelism than by doing justice.

Kuyper distinguished between the institutional church—the congregation meeting under its leaders—and the “organic” church, which consists of all Christians, functioning in the world as individuals and through various agencies and voluntary organizations.

“Freedom, much like equality, is an empty concept. . . . Whether freedom is good or bad depends entirely on the particular substantive cause on behalf of which freedom is invoked.”130

According to one framework, the most just action is that which brings the greatest good to the greatest number of people. According to the second, the most just action is that which respects the freedom and rights of each individual to live as he or she chooses. According to the last view, justice is served when people are acting as they ought to, in accord with morality and virtue.

In a fascinating book, The Humiliation of the Word,2 Jacques Ellul relates seeing and hearing to believing. He finds that the proclamation of the Word has been replaced by liturgy in the high churches and by campaign spectacle in evangelical movements. He appeals to language, not merely binocular vision, as that which sets human beings apart. Language is more than the tactile signals of ants or the visual dance of bees. It is not only more complex, but different, for it is symbolic and conceptual. Ellul describes sight as immediate, locating us in spatial reality, but lacking in significance.

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