A new and controversial law was passed in Victoria this week. People who drop their pants to show their backside in public face up to six months in jail with new laws introduced to ban the cheeky practice known as “mooning”. First-time offenders face up to two months in jail while repeat offenders could spend six months behind bars.
There was outrage in the Letters to the Editor this week, not because people want to be able to do this but because it seems the law doesn’t really reflect people’s expectation at what are considered real crimes. One example showed the outrage: “Jail for mooning but breaking and entering, assault and stealing cars and you’ll get off with a good behaviour bond” (Herald Sun 27/9/2016).
Or maybe you’ve received a speeding fine for going 3km over the speed limit and you think to yourself “why aren’t the police out there catching real criminals”? We’ve probably all felt the outrage at times as we watch people not receive the justice we believe that they should receive for the injustice they have caused.
Habakkuk today in our reading shares the same frustration: He says – “the law becomes slack and justice never prevails”.
Justice is a big issue for people and when they see what seems to be an injustice it can make them scream foul against those who should be bringing justice to the victim and punishing injustice. We keep reading stories about violent criminals who go to court and seem to just get a slap on the wrist and let go. Or the public outrage at present at the granting of bail to Apex Gang members who go out and continue to commit violent crimes.
We cry out, like Habakkuk, How long O Lord shall I cry for help and you will not listen – how long do I cry out “violence and you will not save”? (Habakkuk 1:1,2). So how did Habakkuk understand this seeming lack of justice and will it help us to get through it today?
God says to him, and us, there is a vision for the appointed time – it speaks of the end – it will surely come. So God is saying to Habakkuk that justice is coming at the appointed time but he just has to wait. And it’s the waiting that is the really hard part.
The world is full of injustice and we can become disillusioned with God wondering if God is ever going to act against the injustice we see. It’s no wonder that so many of our youth are turning to crime and immoral living because they see no consequence for their action. It’s no wonder that our young generation abandon the church and go for more fun lifestyles with drugs, drinking, sex and other immoral decisions – it’s more fun and seemingly no consequences.
It’s been 2000 years since Jesus promised to return to judge the world – Either he’s not coming – or he’s not coming today so let’s have fun today and repent tomorrow.
Like the disciples I keep finding myself crying out to God – “increase my faith”. Show me that you’re still in control Lord. Show me that I have not made a mistake putting my trust in you. Show me that the sacrifices I have made for you were not in vain. Sometimes I have even cried out – show me that there will be consequences against those who disobey you. I know it’s wrong and I seek God’s forgiveness but that’s sometimes how frustrated I feel.
Paul too had to contend with a hostile world and I wonder if sometimes whether he thought to himself if he made the right decision to become a Christian – although it wasn’t really his choice. No, he says that he was appointed as an apostle and “for this reason I suffer”
But he says – “I am not ashamed for I know the one in whom I have put my trust and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day”. That day he is referring to is the day Jesus returns to bring justice.
So when the disciples asked Jesus to “increase our faith” Jesus reminded them that they didn’t need their faith increased they just needed to trust God. It’s not about increasing our faith; We have faith or we don’t.
There are going to be times when we struggle in our faith – when we have doubts – but that’s part of faith. Even the disciples with Jesus doubted at times as we read at Jesus’ ascension: Matthew 28 says: Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. (verses 16,17).
I know that we would all like more faith but Jesus says faith as small as a mustard seed can create enormous miracles. If we start to think of faith as this flexible thing that fluctuates up and down then we are never going to understand what it means to have faith.
You have faith – and that’s why Jesus says in John 14 – You trust in God, trust also in me. (verse 1) Faith is about believing and trusting. You either believe or you don’t. You don’t believe a little or believe a lot. And if you go through times of doubt when things in the world concern you, that’s quite normal.
But that’s when you come to God in prayer and ask for his help. That’s faith. We will go through difficult times and wonder about God’s authority.
Even Jesus did as he hung on the cross in agony and cried out – my God, my God, why have you forsaken me.
Remember what Paul said because it applies to you also. God appointed him as an apostle and therefore God ensures his faith. God appointed you also at your baptism and supplied you with faith.
You can strengthen and nourish your faith by prayer, reading God’s word, coming to worship, receiving Holy Communion. If you want to see that as “increasing your faith” that’s fine but don’t doubt God’s presence with you during those times when you feel that your faith is low or lacking.
As God said to his people Israel as they faced worldly dangers he also says to you: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
So we join with Paul, as he has invited us to. Join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. That’s faith.
It’s easy to become disillusioned with the world and think that God is allowing evil to flourish, but our Psalm today reminds us to remain patient and trusting in God. Do not fret yourself because of evildoers; do not be jealous of those who do wrong. For they shall soon wither like the grass, and like the green grass fade away.
Put your trust in the Lord and do good; Take delight in the Lord, and he shall give you your heart’s desire. Commit your way to the Lord and put your trust in him. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.
Do not fret yourself over the one who prospers, the one who succeeds in evil schemes. Refrain from anger, leave rage alone; do not fret yourself; it leads only to evil. For evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait upon the Lord shall possess the land. Have faith in God.