Picture God—in all His magnificence and might—in a group huddle, preparing to give his team the play, the mental blueprint every player needs to know. They wait expectantly, envisioning the glory, the acclaim and renown of playing for God on team ‘gods’.
Then they hear a great roar, the mighty waterfall-like voice of God saying, “Go now! Use my wisdom and great insight to bring justice to all people. The nations are my inheritance. The weak, the fatherless, the poor and oppressed must be given hope. I am God; you are gods. Use my wisdom, power and love to raise up those who have been treated unfairly.” The players blink in surprise.
“You mean,” they ask, “it’s not just about us? It’s not exclusive? We’re not the whole team?”
No, it’s not just about us, the inner circle of players. It’s not even a game. Those of us who have heard God saying those words to us are gradually coming to see it as more of a race than a game. We have a task and time is running out. We have each been given a finite opportunity here on planet earth to do His bidding on behalf of the downtrodden, to be salt and light, bring hope and love, insist on justice for the oppressed. This is not a game where those who have been brought onto the team can just bask in the glory. We can’t look blankly toward the stands at those who are left out of the game and see only a sea of shapes. We have not been given freedom to ornament and embellish our own jerseys for the glory of the team. Jesus calls us to give our jersey to others, to the weak and disheartened, the lost and the lonely. And like the fish and bread served to five thousand our back will never be short of jerseys to share.
Asaph, psalmist of two millennia ago, describes a similar picture of playmaking in Psalm 82. Here’s the dialogue:
Psalmist narrates: “God presides in the great assembly; he gives judgment among the “gods”.
God to team: “How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. They know nothing, they understand nothing. They walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.’ But you will die like mere men; you will fall like every other ruler.
Psalmist to God: “Rise up, O God, judge the earth, for all the nations are your inheritance.”
It’s a rather sharp correction God gives to us, isn’t it? God’s team is not an exclusive Old Boys’ Club. Living in insular security our wealthy and programme-oriented lives is not the play God has called. Players on this team must move off the artificial turf, the falsely smoothed ice, the perfect court of what we have considered our playing field and get into the stands.
Our Defender calls us to defend the weak; our Rescuer’s desire is that we rescue the needy; our Deliverer’s power is for delivering the oppressed. As sons and daughters of the Most High we cannot allow ourselves the luxury of padding our own coffers while there are yet some in this world who could benefit spiritually, emotionally, physically and financially from what we can offer.
How did Jesus live given the context He was born into? How did He practice justice? The record of history tells us His feet stepped out to find the needy. His hands touched the untouchables in healing comfort. His voice spoke words of truth and hope and challenge.
Are we rising to the challenge Asaph records in the Psalm? Are we imitators of Jesus? We have a high calling—let’s answer it.
(Photo Credit: BillyBatty, Wikimedia Commons)