I, like many, have been taking in deeply all that is going on in the world, especially in my city, Seattle. The insidiousness of racism and those who are racist is finally getting the attention it deserves. I have learned that I am racist, and have taken advantage of the privilege I have as a white person in America. God have mercy.
As a Christ follower, ask this question: Who does justice? In Proverbs, there is a challenging response.
When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices;
when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.
11 Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,
but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.
The word ‘ prosper’ here means a person/people who have risen to the top in their field. They have wealth, influence and power. The people who are around them don’t resent it, they don’t envy it, they rejoice!
This word used for rejoice is never used except in this verse, and it means joy in a military victory. There are people, when they get to the top of their influence, power, and wealth, use it as a victory for all.
Who are these people referenced here? They are called the righteous. In our world, when we think of a righteous person, we think of a morally upright person, but that isn’t what this scripture is talking about.
The righteous described here, are willing to disadvantage themselves for the betterment of the community. These are the just. The wicked are those who put their economic and social needs ahead of the community.
The way forward?
As a result, our hope for those who don’t identify with the church to say:
‘I don’t believe what they believe, I don’t believe in their faith and I don’t believe in their God, but I can’t imagine what this neighborhood would be like without them. They are putting so much value in our neighborhood; I can’t deny what good is being produced.’
What kind of church do we need to be for the city to rejoice that we are here? I firmly believe it’s not enough, to get bigger, to attract more people. This scripture doesn’t say when the righteous prosper the righteous rejoice and the rest of the city grumbles because we are taking up all the parking on the street.
Moreover, we need to be looking for places in the city where there is unraveling and inject justice into it and pull people back into the fabric.
The just have two goals when they get to the city:
- To use success, and the influence and power that comes with it, why?
- To do justice, so they disadvantage themselves to advance the community.
That’s what the church ought to be doing.