Evildoers do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it fully.
--Proverbs 28: 5 (NRSV)
I ran across this verse recently, and it struck me between the eyes. First of all, it speaks of, I believe, the issue in the church that has been deemphasized dramatically. That is, seeking the Lord.
We seek so many other things and resources to falsely buoy us up in times of travail and difficulty. We speak so much of discipline and faithfulness, but we don’t seek our source of life and grace with any regularity. We depend on the voting process at annual conference or in our voting booth at our local polling station to affect culture.
Deuteronomy 4: 29-31 goes like this –
But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. For the LORD your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath.
When we seek the Lord, we return to the Lord. In Matthew 7: 7-8, we hear of the benefit of seeking itself – Seek and you will find. When we seek, we find. The benefits of finding what the Lord has promised or assured us far outweighs what we find in politics or resources found among those who have stockpiles to waste.
Isaiah 55: 6-7 gives us more encouragement –
Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
Mercy and pardon are found a great deal in John Wesley’s sermons and journals. Have we lost our desire to share the good news of mercy and pardon found in seeking and finding the Lord? Sure we have. In fact, we sometimes take great glee in passively refusing to communicate mercy & pardon for all God so loves (John 3: 16) because we want our political side to win the argument in the state house, on the editorial page or the conference website.
We will only understand justice when we seek the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding. Our own experiences of justice, mercy & pardon come from our God who provides these abundantly. This will, first of all, compel us to share this good news, and it will be this reality that characterizes Methodists in the generations to come.