Justice, a very specific term, is a term truly defined by its use in judiciary circumstances. When scripture normally refers to justice, it is often coalesced with righteousness. I often refer to it as vindication. Justice is what God is about, much of the meta-narrative is connected with justice. One does not have to read very far in the Bible and you stumble upon the book of Exodus, where we find a group of people crying out for help. Their injustice eventually reaches the ears of Yahweh and through numerous plagues they are delivered and the exodus takes place. Justice takes place, the hurting, destitute, Israelite’s, are liberated by the one and only God. This justice, this idea of liberation is connected and always has been connected with God. His desire for justice and his unfailing love for us, ultimately led to the death of his son, to have justice for sin, and to bring justice to all who accept him. This is known as justification, but this writing does not have time to go in that direction. Basically anytime justice is being done, it is connected with God.
Without having a Arminian versus Calvin debate, justice is something that we as Christians ought to be involved with. In fact, since justice is so tightly woven in and around God and his character, justice ought also therefore be wrapped around how we are defined as Christians. There are so many avenues that we as Christians try to spur or support justice through. Often they are as I was brought up…that is through a Conservative political view. We support justice through our vote and the right alignment in the political realm. For years of my life I thought the conservative or republican way was the answer. However in recent years and to my surprise, I discovered that liberal politics and progressives have something that seemed a little more attached to a biblical understanding of justice. ..Micah 6:8 states it clearly, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” God reminds the Israelite’s of all that he has done for them, especially the liberation from Egypt, and now asks them to respond by doing the same. James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Now before I go to far, I don’t agree with everything that progressives suggest and stand for, but they are looking after those who do not have. Jesus says that what you do for the least of these you do for me. He again replies plead the case of the widow, care for the poor…Jesus also connects a judgment along with not helping those in need (Matthew 25:41-46). Justice is something that should be defined by Christians and our actions. Now before fingers are pointed at me with anger, I am not suggesting that conservative or republican beliefs do not agree with helping those in need, however I am suggesting that maybe your political stance is more influenced by your friends and family then by who it should be shaped by Jesus. Albeit, I believe that Christendom should not be defined through political stances alone but by being a separate culture.
For years and years Christianity has tried to enforce its religious beliefs through political ideals and laws, though these are not in themselves wrong, they are not the way that Jesus would see to have it done. Looking at the historical Jesus, we find that he could of led a revolution, a military movement to overthrow Rome. But Jesus did not, but what he did is set up his kingdom, as He often said the Kingdom of God is here. This was a kingdom within a kingdom, that was not trying to transform the world through power, but in fact through the grassroots as some would say. His kingdom was advancing because it was not defined by policy, but by freedom and liberation and not by what the world sees as success and being blessed. The Sermon on the mount in Matthew 5 gave a vivid description of what Jesus’ kingdom was about. A kingdom defined by the broken, the outcast, and the lowly. Those who society deemed dirty, ugly, and blemished. But Jesus saw them as jewels, as the real beautiful people. For Jesus did not come for the healthy he can for the sick. All this to suggest that politics might not be the solution. Politics is about others making decisions, justice in God’s kingdom is about us as Christians being involved personally with the community of believers to alleviate the outcasts through love. If we do not love our neighbor, than we do not love God. Love God, and love people as Jesus stated summing up the entire first Testament. Who is my neighbor they asked, well let me tell you a story Jesus said, a story about the good Samaritan. Your neighbor is who you do not want to be associated with.
Justice then therefore moves from just providing food to the hungry and care for the widow to the idea of race. Racial discrimination is characterized by so many of our churches today that we neglect to see it or even consider it. Majority of our churches are defined by color. They are segregated by race. This separation is not what the body of Christ should look like. If we are united through common faith in Jesus and in solidarity with one another towards a world lost without a Savior, then why does this division even exist? Though I do not have a clear answer, I know that in part it is due to apartheid. This division started long before our age, but that does not give us excuse to allow it to continue. Churches should not be defined by color, this injustice that we join in together shows a world that we are no different then them. But the kingdom of God should be defined as follows: “Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all(Colossians 3:11).” This is the kingdom of God, many parts of the body with beautiful color united not divided liberating the world as one people through the love of Jesus Christ. So justice in our Christian world needs to be renewed to expand out of our racial boundaries and into the brush of the creator painting a kingdom diversified by chromaticities. Then the world will see that Christianity is not just an esoteric divided community, but one defined by love, and love for one’s neighbor as defined by Jesus.
Justice is not just isolated to people though, it is also connected to creation. “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good (Genesis 1:31).” For so long Christians have been a contributor to eradicating and defacing the earth. I know I myself have been a proponent in this as well. The earth is good, in fact Creation longs for the return of Christ. It desires to be redeemed as follows, “For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God (Romans 8:19-21).” Christians often have this exceptional naive understanding that the world is bad and all that we are longing and pushing forward to is heaven. But that is not the idea at all. Jesus is not only redeeming us, but all of his creation. It was all good in Genesis before sin entered into the world, and eventually with the age to come will be very good again. Though we are between the age to come and this age, we still have a responsibility to the world. God originally put man and woman over creation to watch over it, to protect it and be good stewards of it. However due to our recent past hundreds of years, we now push farther and farther into this creation and destroy its beauty all in the name of Capitalism. I am not against Corporations that employ people, but most are so narcissistic and egocentric they will destroy anyone and anything in their way to make a profit. This destruction of God’s beautiful earth is a desolation against his very name . Though we are commanded to go out and create culture, we are also commanded to be good stewards. If our ideology is not shaped and united with our theology, then we are desecrating the name that we are identified with, that being Jesus. Enough said on this for now. (For further reading on this see Richard Bauckman’s book The Bible and Ecology).
Injustice is all around us. It happens everyday someone starves to death, someone dies of a sickness that can easily be cured through medicine, through racial discrimination, and through destroying creation. This list does not nearly cover all the ways injustice is done, but it is a beginning. I write this to create awareness, that there are people hurting all around you and I invite you to get involved. Stop sending money to people in the name of justice and do justice in the name of Jesus. Get involved, as I stated in the beginning of this writing that justice is being done all over by God. Don’t try to create justice, join in with the Creator who is already at work. Develop true relationships in doing justice, people don’t just need your money they need others. God created his people to be in community with one another, and that is precisely what others desire to have community with someone , anyone. For example, the elderly in homes all over, desire to talk with someone, but most even their own children do not take the time to visit due to their own selfishness. Relationships is key to justice to others, this brings value to them as individuals. Get outside your safe environments, visit downtown, visit other races and color, and mend the brokenness that has been for as long as time has existed. If God has redeemed you he has called you into his mission to redeem others and his Creation. I would like to close with one of the most misinterpreted passages of scripture. Jeremiah 29:11 and following says”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” However a few verses back God says, “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper (Vs 7).” Your future is connected with the way you treat the world and others around you.
For more on Justice and what has greatly influenced my thinking in this area read: