Transforming justice and righteousness for Thurrock

DSC00404I was walking by the Thames this morning down near Tilbury Fort, and I noticed that someone had thrown a bunch of tulips over the wall onto the mud.

The flowers’ bright reds and yellows and their green stalks and leaves contrasted with the grey-brown stickiness and general putridity of the pungent mud.

It seemed to me that whoever had thrown them was making some kind of emphatic statement, or had been angry about something. Maybe a relationship had come to an end. Maybe an attempt at reconciliation had failed. Maybe a betrayal, or a rejection. Whatever, it seemed sad. Something, or someone, somewhere, had died.

A large container ship came upstream, guided by a pilot boat. As they passed where I stood, the wash disturbed the otherwise tranquil gravy-like water. I was reminded of a word  I’ve heard a couple of times that God is going to awash these history-sodden shores with a wave of revival, reaching inland and affecting communities to the north and south.

DSC00400Then I went down to the ferry and sat and watched the river go by. There was a chap in the next car doing the same. He was senior citizen, on his own, just watching. I thought of the old Bob Dylan song, “Watching the River Flow”, and pondered why you can only get it on his Greatest Hits Volume 2.

Then I thought of those words from Amos 5:24: “Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

Justice for my people, justice from my people to the people in the streets and towns. Justice inside the church, justice outside the church. Transforming justice transforming into transforming righteousness that tangibly transforms the community and the land.

A justice that is prepared to judge itself and correct itself and be real. Be righteous.

A justice that comes from God’s mercy, full of love and compassion, rather than an almost-justice and quasi-righteousness that constantly looks over its shoulder, mindful of the organisation, the system, the institution.

DSC00408From Christ-centred justice flows Christ-centred righteousness.

This justice does not depend upon nor enforce performance-related Christianity. It brings freedom – freedom from the heavy yoke of expectation; freedom from religiosity and ritual;  freedom from obeisance to the man-made, the manufactured and the fabricated.

It’s like water from a rock. You can’t get water from a brick!

“Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

This is the justice that Isaiah, Jeremiah and Jesus referred to time and time again when they came into conflict with the system. It’s not about the festivals, it’s about the justice. It’s not about the fasting, it’s about the justice. It’s not about the money-lending, it’s about the justice. That’s righteousness.

You see, if the church is not just, it’s just not the church. If the church ain’t righteous, it ain’t right.

“Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

DSC00399And God’s justice, God’s righteousness – his pure justice, true righteousness – is full of love. That’s the key to transforming the filthy water into fresh water.

Love’s justice and righteousness will unblock the wells of healing and salvation. Love’s justice and righteousness will restore the ancient ruins. Love’s justice and righteousness will go outside the wall, to a Cross, and die. And another kind of red mingles with the dirt brown earth.

The earth groans for the justice and righteousness that restores, heals and transforms the land. And then it will yield its strength. Filthy is becoming fresh, all things are being made new. Do you perceive it?

“Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

Tim Harrold