I have been uncertain a bazillion times in my life.
I’ve been uncertain about my husband’s love for me, about my need to eat vegetables, about whether my mom would live until Christmas, about whether I was capable of writing a book.
I’ve been uncertain – shaky, even – of important things, of things that carried great weight. Salvation and forgiveness and grace.
And I’ve been uncertain about silly things – of things that had no impact on life or safety or love or eternity. When I have been uncertain, it felt real. It felt heavy with importance.
Often for me, uncertainty sapped my confidence.
It felt like I was walking on a tight rope without a net below me.
Mary and Joseph were uncertain when they walked into the stable that night, sensing this would be their delivery room.
Jesus sent out 72 disciples to tell of the nearness of the kingdom of God and to talk of Jesus, but do it without any pre-paid hotel reservations. They were uncertain if they would be run out of town, or accepted to preach in the synagogue. They were uncertain if they would have a place to sleep or food to eat.
The people who heard Jesus teach about the sheep and goats were uncertain which field they lived in: the sheep’s giving aid to those in need, or the goats’ who held tight to what was their sharing little or none.
Jesus says he didn’t know the goats. At all.
In the days when Jesus said those words, there was no reproach for the poor. If the richer folks, or the ones in power (usually one in the same), decided to take whatever they wanted, they would. They made their own self-serving rules, and punished those who did not follow them.
If mistreated, the poor had no court to go to that would hear their case. The poor had no way to get justice for being wrongly treated. The courts could choose – either by ignoring wise counsel or being influencing by the bribes accepted – to allow the matter to be brought before an authoritative arbiter or not. Usually, the poor did not win out nor get their day in court.
But Jesus did not come just for the physical needs of the poor.
The rich and powerful were not the only ones whose hearts needed some tweaking. Goats and sheep existed in all levels of that culture, and in ours as well.
Jesus spoke far beyond the flawed court system of the day. He was talking at the individual level, at the level of my heart and your heart and the heart of those who walked past a person in need, ignoring a widow mistreated. The poor of that day had hearts that needed to understand this just as much as those who had wealth and status.
And that is just as true today.
Jesus came to bring justice to all of the uncertainty of this world, not only to the flawed systems, but to all of our flailing, failing hearts. He brought rock-solid certainty to what he did, what he taught, and from that, showed us how we were to live.
He came so that ALL of us – the rich, the poor, the inbetweens – could learn to ‘love mercy, act justly and walk humbly with God’ (Micah 6:8). He came to bring the world to justice – God’s way of certainty living – no matter what the rank and standing.
Still injustice seems to win sometimes. Some days it seems that is all that is winning.
Even so, we can be certain that God has our back. That no matter what things look like here on earth, all will be worked out – justly – when God brings it all to completion.
No matter what things look like here on earth, all will be worked out – justly – when God brings it all to completion.
Uncertainty should exist in our hearts only for as long as it takes to remember this:
Yes, I am coming soon. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:20)