Can I ask you a question?

[This is a short sermon manuscript I wrote. Note that when I write a manuscript it is a guide and therefore in writing it I am not super concerned with grammar. I have chosen not to go back through a revise this after I have delivered it because this is what I used word for word. One last disclaimer this was written for a specific audience at a specific time in a specific place, therefore, reading is not the same experience as hearing it preached. All that said I pray that God can use this here to speak a word to you.]

The Lord be with you

And also with you

Our Scripture for today is Psalm 82, so if you have your Bible you can follow along if you like. I am going to pray for us before we begin. Would you pray with me?

(God our strong deliverer who has raised us up the pit of sinful ways we come to you now to confess. We confess that we forget that your commandments are not burdensome and that your yoke is light; too often we make our lives of faith list keeping drudgeries. Forgive us for staring for countless hours at the hand writing on the wall unable to understand the call you’ve on our lives. God of truth in this time and in this place help us to keep our mouths shut and our hearts open long enough for you to come in power to transform our lives. God we love, come Holy Ghost Amen.)

Hear this from the book that we love. (read Psalm 82). This is the word of God

If you have ever been in relationship with anyone you know that there is nothing that will make your heart sink faster that these phrases; “can I ask you a question” and “we need to talk”. Our hearts fall to the floor because we know whatever is to come next is going to be a difficult conversation. Here is Psalm 82 we get a difficult conversation, we get a can I ask you a question, and we get a we need to talk moment from God.

Can I ask you a question? How long? … How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? We need to talk… Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

Can I ask you a question? How long Vince? … How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? How long will you ignore the impoverished and parentless children I have called you to? How long will you seek to work at Riverside Camp with its nice facilities, nice location, and nice Church kids with nice clothes? We need to talk… Give justice to the weak and the fatherless. I have not called you to nice Riverside I have called you to angel tree kids. I have called you to the kids that come to camp without a blanket and pillow because they cannot afford it. I have called you to the weak and fatherless. In your striving to do ministry you are neglecting the ones who I have called you to. I was impartial with my love for you do the same for others. Pick up my book and read.

James 2:1-9 “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called? If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.”

Can I ask you question? How long? … How long white Christians? How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? How long will you stand idly by with you lips shut while your black brothers and sisters are systematically oppressed? How long will continue to close your eyes to the injustices in Staten Island and North Charleston? How long will we turn a blind eye to our Latino brothers and sisters as their families get torn apart? We need to talk… Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. You cannot continue to claim to focus on the family while you let family be torn apart by police brutality and deportation. My love is painted with a multiplicity of color you are equal to me. You all were equally destitute and wrought with sin and I love you all with extravagant equality. It is not optional to love impartially. Read my scriptures.

Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Romans 10:12 “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.”

Revelation 7:9 “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Can I ask you a question? How long Church? … How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? How long will you continue to install big screens while the homeless are neglected? How long will you continue to put light shows in your rafters while people go without rafters? How long oh my Church will you continue to have pot lucks while down the road people don’t have the luck to have food in their pots? How long will you water the Gospel down to ease it’s call the rich tithers while people starve to hear the Gospel in power? We need to talk… Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. My people need clothes, food, and to hear the Gospel. What good is this faith that you ascent to if you neglect those who Jesus came to serve. “For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Is not the image God equally on the poor as the as the rich; pick up and read my book.

Leviticus 19:15-16 “You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord.”

The answer we must have to the question of how long my brothers and sisters is no longer, no farther, and no more partiality in heart and deed. Psalm 82 provides us with difficult conversations to have with ourselves, with each other, and with God. If we fail to answer God’s piercing question of how long with no longer, and no farther, and no more; then we fail at what Jesus call the second great commandment. “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40). On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets; if we continue to show partiality in our dealings with our neighbors we fail all the Law. Out of 613 commandments Jesus gives two when asked what the greatest commandment is; why? Because if we profess to love God but show hate to the very beings bearing God’s image we are liars. To love God and his image bearers are commandments that are inextricably linked because we cannot do one without doing the other. God’s word for us today is how long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? How long will you continue to run from God’s love for the world? Our answers to these questions will define our lives daily. How Long my brothers and sister? How long…?

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