Permanent or Provisional?
You can tell a great deal about a state’s or a nation’s actual morality by the way it treats its weakest and most vulnerable. The prophet Isaiah reminded us that God’s people are to live in such a way that God’s justice will light the way for others (Isaiah 51:4). Conversely, when we practice injustice, we shut off the lights of civilization and cause people to stumble.
The prophet Isaiah had a clear sense of the difference between the provisional and the permanent. The provisional is emphasized when we put things (possessions or money) above people or when we favor one group of people at the expense of another more vulnerable group. The permanent is the focus when we look for God’s way of justice and mercy for ALL. In fact, says Isaiah, those who oppress others are like moth-eaten garments; attractive for a short time, but in the end, just pieces of thread with holes everywhere (vv. 7-8). When we build our personal lives or public policy on that which is fleeting, the fabric of social order is torn. But, says the prophet, when we trust in God’s way, his deliverance is forever: that is, permanent (v. 8).
It is very telling that in this passage of scripture, the word “salvation” is used interchangeably with the words ” justice, righteousness,” and “deliverance” (vv.4-8). In other words, God’s vision for Missouri is much broader than simply inviting us to be in heaven with Him some day. God’s passion is for all in our state to be cared for and to live in safety, peace and fulfillment (see Isaiah 65:17-25).
During this Holy Week, we ponder the great sacrifice of Jesus’ life on the Cross. We wonder at the mystery of the resurrection. The Easter message is much more than just the assurance of life after death. It is the announcement that God’s way wins – the permanent over the provisional. Which world are you betting on: the provisional or the permanent? Which world is more real to you? Which world matters more? Each day, we cast our votes for one or the other. Choose God’s way!
Rev Dr. Doyle Sager, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church in Jefferson City