Glencairn Methodist Church
I have been reading "Streams of Living Water" by Richard Foster . The "Streams" are six major strands of Christian Spirituality, and this Message is inspired by Chapter 5 - "The Social Justice Tradition, Discovering the Compassionate Life".
The Old Testament gives us three great characteristics of God, which can be summed up in the Hebrew words, Mishpat, Hesed and Shalom..
The first of these is used in Psalm 103 v 6: "The Lord works 'righteousness and justice' (mishpat) for all the oppressed." Since we Christians are called to conform more and more to the likeness of Jesus, we should be living lives that demonstrate righteousness and justice - compassionate justice, not just legal justice; a desire in our hearts to reach out to those who need help.
Hesed is usually translated "Steadfast love". In Psalm 136 v 1 we are exhorted to "Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his 'steadfast love' (hesed) endures for ever". God loves his people who repent and turn back to him, and as we conform our lives to Jesus, we too find ourselves being prepared to love others with an enduring love, sharing with those in need from our riches.
Shalom is a well known word in English and it is usually translated "peace". But the word means so much more than simply the absence of discord. In Numbers 6 vv 24-26, we read the Aaronic Blessing, "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face towards you and give you 'peace' (shalom). The word shalom is used elsewhere to convey the meaning of wholeness and harmony, and when we greet one another with "The Peace of the Lord be always with you", we are wishing them shalom - peace, wholeness and harmony.
As we seek to live the Compassionate Life day by day with these thoughts in our hearts, then we will conform more and more to the likeness of God.
7 November 2008
 Richard Foster, 1999, "Streams of Living Water", Harper Collins
NOTE - Previous "Monthly Messages" are archived at http://glencairn.connor.anglican.org/previousmessages.htm