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August Illuminate

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Holy and Just

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Summary:  Light + Life Executive Editor Jeff Finley introduces this issue that has an overall theme of “justice.” He asserts that some people emphasize the need for “holiness” while others emphasize the need for “justice,” but based on his observations from the Twitter social network, few people seem to emphasize both. According to the Free Methodist Book of Discipline, however, “hopeful solutions for injustices are found in the community and character formation of people and institutions pursuing holiness.”

1. Do you find it difficult to speak out for both justice and holiness in today’s polarized society?

2. Name an example of yourself, a friend or a family member confronting an injustice.

Further reading: Romans 7:12
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… And Justice for All?

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Summary: Bishop David Roller writes that “one point where the church and culture are wonderfully aligned is in our abhorrence of injustice. Justice issues are very important to followers of Jesus and very important to most Americans.” He notes, however, that the word “justice” means “different things to different people.” Justice for sinners means damnation, but God’s “love constrains His justice and extends to us all the possibility of ‘justification.’”

  1. What is your definition of justice?

2.  What is the difference between justice and justification?

3. How can we live our lives in ways that will bring justice through the dual paths of       individual and collective transformation?

Further reading: Luke 3: 1-20
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Escape to Iowa

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Summary:  Richard Williamson shares a true story from his childhood about how his father, a Free Methodist pastor in Iowa, and his mother welcomed a Pacific Coast Japanese Conference pastor and his wife to live with them in Iowa in violation of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, which required the incarceration of every Japanese American on the West Coast. Through wise counsel from Superintendent E.W. Walls, the Iowa Free Methodists accepted Hideo and Doris Aoki despite the prejudices many Christians had during the World War II era.

  1.  Were you surprised that Midwestern Free Methodists defied a presidential order to help a brother and sister in Christ? Why or why not?

2.  Name a time in the Bible when someone broke a law or defied a ruler’s authority because of a conflict with his or her beliefs.

3.  How do we reconcile biblical examples of civil disobedience (for example, Exodus 1:17) with Romans 13:1’s call to “let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established”?

Further reading: Galatians 3:28
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Restorative Justice: Freeing the Slave:

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Summary:  Kalei Swogger Pogue shares how issues of justice, such as the death penalty, can be complicated. She highlights the work of Eden’s Glory, a safe home for survivors of sex trafficking that is an Illinois branch of the Set Free Movement.

1.  Are you aware of another organization or movement “seeking out the vulnerable and taking steps to change unjust systems”? If so, name the organization and describe what it does.

2.  What change can you make to include an outsider into your circle?

3.  Do some people pursue justice but fail to do it with humility (Micah 6:8)?

Further reading: Psalm 146: 7-9, Jeremiah 22:3
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A Biblical Perspective on Justice:

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Summary: Guillermo Flores — the pastor of the Melrose Free Methodist Church in Miami and a Latin coach for the denominational Recalibrate initiative — reveals that the Bible discusses retributive justice, restorative justice and distributive justice, but it gives privilege to the notion of justice as forgiving and restorative. He also states, “God works in favor of the most vulnerable of societies and invites His people to defend them and act in their favor.”

  1.  Why are forgiven people sometimes not willing to forgive other people?

2.  How do you reassure fellow Christians that they serve a just God if they are experiencing injustice or difficult circumstances that they do not deserve?

3.  How can we balance justice and mercy so that we are treating people with compassion but are not allowing or encouraging them to perpetuate harmful behavior that hurts other people?

4.  Why do you think so many people have claimed to be Christians while discriminating against other humans?

Pop Theology

Justice in Unjust Circumstances

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Summary:  David Brewer, the director of MBA programs at Anderson University who formerly co-led SEED Livelihood Network, details why the concept of justice is not as simple as it may initially seem. He notes, “The ultimate injustice is one we celebrate every Good Friday: The only spotless human to ever live was killed for sins others had committed.”

1.  Where in society do you see different definitions or understandings of justice?

2.  What did you think when Brewer contrasted equity and justice? Was this contrast new to you?

3.  Pray individually or as a group that the Holy Spirit will lead you to truth rather than depending on your conscience that may be unreliable.

Further reading: Matthew 2:13-18, Peter 2:24
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