Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2016
Texts: Ezekiel 37:1-14; Ephesians 2:10; Ezekiel 47:1-8; Matthew 5:16; Revelation 11:1-2; Isaiah 61:1-11
At the beginning of this very tumultuous summer, mayors representing 250 major cities in the United States gathered in Indianapolis for the 84th Annual Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. During those four days, participants heard from mayors whose cities had endured unspeakable tragedy, as well as from speakers who encouraged change. The list of panel members consisted of a wide and varied group of individuals including entertainers, clergy, sports owners, and political candidates.1
At the end of the session, a resolution called for these leaders to adopt a “culture of kindness in their communities, building up the social infrastructure and making our cities resilient, happier, and healthier….”2 These leaders see that a culture of kindness leads to better communities. Kindness changes the face of where people live because it changes the actions of the people who live there.
How often have you heard people cry for justice? But what does that mean? Is it possible that all too often, as humans, we hope that justice takes on a face more like that of revenge? Is it part of human nature to want to see justice served in the form of vengeance, to see those who have done wrong receive punishment rather than grace? But is that the answer?
In our lesson this week, we see the type of justice that God offers. Ezekiel 47:12 and Revelation 22:1, 2 both describe justice from God’s perspective. Both of these texts describe people being rescued and returning to a land made for them. This is the type of justice that God details.
As we study the passages in this week’s lesson, we are never called to seek revenge or to make sure that those who deserve it duly receive vengeance. Instead, we are continually reminded of how God provides healing, living water, and life to His children. We are also shown how we can have a part in sharing that life—how that by showing kindness we can point those who are brokenhearted to the life that God seeks to give.
Micah 6:8, a passage familiar to many, shares what the Lord requires of us, “To act justly, and to love mercy and walk humbly with your God” (NIV). Listen to what how this passage is translated in the International Children’s Bible: “. . . Do what is right to other people. Love being kind to others. And live humbly, trusting your God.” This is justice and mercy done the way God asks us to live it.
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