Part 1: Justice
Do justice. Love Mercy. And walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
What is justice? We often think of justice only in a “paying the consequences for your actions” sort of way. I would argue that this is a narrow way to view justice, especially from a Biblical standpoint. The truth is, throughout Scripture, justice has far reaching implications.
Justice is a way of living in right-standing with those around you and making wrongs right. This stems from the Biblical concept that we are all image bearers of God and therefore should treat each other as such. But living in an imperfect world means we have to seek out justice and continually do justice-work. Not just interpersonally, but in our social constructs, our communities, and more. To make wrongs right doesn’t mean to simply say you’re sorry and continue acting as before. God calls us to show justice by:
- Treating the poor immigrant as our own family, not turning them away in hunger or without clothes (Isaiah 58:7)
- Showing kindness to the poor (Proverbs 14:31) in both action and word (James 2:14-17)
- Speaking up for those who can’t (Proverbs 31:8-9)
- Refusing to allow the oppression of the marginalized and disadvantaged (Jeremiah 22:3)
I love this last verse. Jeremiah is a prophet and God is telling him how to administer justice and righteousness. He’s so direct and clear in how justices is supposed to be administered by us:
”Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.”
So while in some circumstances justice is a guilty person receiving a punishment for their crime, more often in scripture God calls true justice an act of living in right-standing with those around you. This is accomplished through practical action such as feeding the poor, freeing the enslaved, overturning unjust systems, and showing His love to the oppressed.
The question is how can Christians truly live this out and create a culture of justice and mission in our everyday lives? Honestly, we see over and over throughout the Bible that His people fail in this endeavor. We fail because of our earthly, sinful nature. We are all guilty, whether intentionally or because we’ve benefited from unjust systems we didn’t know existed. It almost seems impossible to right these wrongs. This is why God sent the prophets to Israel, and it’s ultimately why Jesus came to die on the cross.
The “everyday mission: of justice-living is extremely diverse. Some may have a calling to the homeless community, others more of a heart for racial justice, still others a call to help the economically disadvantaged. But, if you believe you have been shown mercy by God through the covering of your injustices on this earth, you can start acting right now to help bring justice to those around you:
- Listen to God… By that I mean, what is the injustice that God has laid heaven on your heart? Pray about that injustice, then when God prompts, find ways to make it right.
- Live generously with your time, money, possessions, and power. If you are in a place of privilege use it to partner with others and change the injustices around you.
- When you see injustice, and you have the power to do so, do something about it! “Deliver from the hand of the oppressor he who has been robbed”
- Be open to learning where your blind spots are to injustices you may have benefited from while others suffer.
The church in America has some serious work to do in this area. Throughout history many powerful Christians have used Scripture to oppress, and even excuse injustices done to others to their benefit. In this time, and in this season we have the opportunity to pray, lament, and seek true justice in our communities.
Remember, this is an ongoing battle. In the thousands of years of recorded history, injustice has continued unabated. True justice won’t be fully realized until Jesus comes again. But as Christians we can create, through the Spirit’s power, a culture that is so loving, so unique, so generous, so radical, and so full of justice that people are naturally drawn to God and His healing family.
Jessica Anderson lives in Hobe Sound, Florida with her husband and two toddlers. She is on staff at Everyday Mission as our Administrative Coordinator. She has a heart to see her community and the world changed by the hope God and the gospel of Jesus bring.