Mark Lomax spoke today (July 18) to the Presbyterian Peacemaking Conference in Orange, Calif. The theme of the conference is Sowing Mustard Seeds: Working for God’s Justice — Confronting Poverty.
Lomax is interim dean at Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary and chair of the homiletics department at the Interdenominational Theological Seminary in Atlanta.
He told participants to “unplug from the peripherals,” relating the challenge to his experience of talking on the phone with computer tech support. After a long time spent trying to troubleshoot the issue, the support person asked Lomax if he had any peripherals plugged into the computer, which he did. He unplugged the printer, the external hard drive, and other USB-connected devices and rebooted the computer. It worked.
“What if we just stop buying stuff we don’t need?” Lomax asked. “What if we unplug the consumer habits that we have?” he continued. The alternative, suggested Lomax, is to follow the words of Micah, by doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with our God.
“What is justice?” he asked. It is the right thing. Where do you do it? Right where you are. “It doesn’t have to be big,” he pointed out. “People in Micah’s day thought that they were impressing God with all that they did, but God said, ‘I despise your sacrifices.’” Lomax acknowledged the desire and the tendency to want to do something big. But those who wish to work toward peace and toward justice do not need to think big. “It is the foolishness of our testimony about our relationship with God that will turn the world around,” he said.
Presbyterians are “Holy Spirit shy,” he continued. “Were we to become proclaimers of the gospel, to consistently testify to our relationship with God, then the Holy Spirit might just come in and take control and might not adhere to the Book of Order,” said Lomax. “We might just get transformed,”