July is always a time when, at my local church, we always set aside some time to delve more deeply into justice. We ask ourselves difficult questions: What is justice, and particularly, Biblical justice? How are we being agents of justice in the world? Are there ways in which we are perpetuating or creating injustices? What is our mandate as Christians when it comes to fighting for and working for justice? What can we practically DO in terms of bringing justice right now?
Those who call themselves Christ-followers cannot shy away from the issue of justice because it is woven into the fabric of Scripture. The word or concept appears 134 times in the Bible. It is part of the very DNA of God’s revelation to us. Over and over we see the theme revealed as God cries out to His people to follow His way and not to treat others unjustly. In Deuteronomy 27:19 we read that in fact, He says, “Cursed is anyone who withholds justice from the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow…” Withholding justice is a serious offence.
It is also one of the primary issues Jesus had with the Pharisees. They were so religious that they stuck to the absolute letter of the law, going so far as tithing their herbs, but they had failed to understand and live out the spirit of God’s law, which is all about love and justice. Jesus said to them, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former” (Matthew 23:23)
It is all too easy to get trapped in that same mind-set that the Pharisees had. We become so focused on our own situations, even on our churches, and the good things we’re doing, that we fail to focus on what really matters to God and neglect matters of justice. It is very easy to get sucked into a very narrow frame of mind in which our lives are all about “JUST US” instead of JUSTICE. But that is not what God calls us to. We are called to advance His Kingdom in the world. The church is called to be the prophetic voice in our nation and to be mobilised in prophetic action; in real, practical ways to bring hope, Truth and light into a world that needs God’s touch and justice so desperately.
Friends, let us do everything in our power to move from JUST US to JUSTICE.
The time is now.