Resource page: Justice
In the Bible, justice is connected to God’s righteousness and holiness. Because He is holy, right and just, He works to establish those ideals on Earth. Paul Louis Metzger writes that biblical justice “involves making individuals, communities, and the cosmos whole, by upholding both goodness and impartiality.”
To see how important justice is to God, we can look at the ministry of Jesus. In his home synagogue, Jesus quoted from Isaiah and declared the Holy Spirit was on Him and He would be working to bring justice to the poor, the captives, the blind, and the oppressed (Luke 4:17-19). He challenged the Pharisees over their obsession with human interpretations of the law while ignoring the “weightier matters” of the law—justice, mercy, and faithfulness (Matt. 23:23). Not only did Jesus’ teaching correspond with justice, His death was the ultimate satisfaction of God’s just dealing with sin. The Son took on the punishment due to us because of our sin allowing us to take on His righteousness. One day He will bring final and ultimate justice in his return. Those who have trusted in Him will spend eternity with Him. Those who have not trusted in His sacrifice will be forced to suffer the penalty of their sins—eternal separation from God.
Responsibilities of Christians
Because we worship a God who is concerned with justice, those who follow Him should be concerned with it as well. In the New Testament, we see examples and commands that demonstrate how Christians are to pursue justice even when it runs contrary to the culture. James challenges readers to not give preference to the rich (James 2:1-7). In Philemon, Paul calls on a slave owner to treat a runaway slave as a brother in Christ. (Philemon 8-18). Those are positive aspects of justice—seeking to elevate those who are unfairly denigrated. Justice also involves how we handle wrongdoings.
We are concerned with justice because our goal is not only an earthly social good, but an eternal promise. We are to live as outposts among a broken, unjust world pointing to the better King and the perfect justice of the coming Kingdom of Heaven.
What can we do right here? Steve Stuart, the founder of Impact Nations, an international organization committed to releasing spiritual, economic and social transformation in developing countries. In his latest book When Everything Changes: Healing, Justice and the Kingdom of God, Steve is calling Christians out of their self-created “safe zones” and into the places of need, brokenness, and despair. This is what Christ did for us and what he calls us to do for others.
Jemar Tisby is the President and Co-Founder of the Reformed African American Network. He walks us through why we need to be students of history and why we can’t just be content when we didn’t “mean” to be racist. Listen here:
How do we raise our kids to be justice-seekers?
>Benjamin Watson is a tight end for the Baltimore Ravens, but he’s also a husband, father, and Christ-follower as well as the author of a couple of books. His first book was Under Our Skin: Getting Real about Race and if you have not read it yet and you are a Christian interested in engaging in racial reconciliation today it’s a must read and then his latest is The New Dad’s Playbook: Gearing Up for the Biggest Game of Your Life.
Criminal justice reform
The United States incarcerates almost 2.2 million people, which is significantly more than any other country. Although the Constitution guarantees “equal protection under the law,” in practice, minorities and people with less financial means face a different, harsher system of law enforcement.
We should constantly be striving to make the criminal justice system better by advocating for a fairness and impartiality that guarantees equitable treatment for all citizens. Doing that speaks to the ultimate, righteous Judge who will always act justly and points others to the gospel that saves without partiality.
What are the issues at stake? How could we get involved in correctional ministry?
>Dr. Karen Swanson, Director of Institute for Prison Ministries at Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College helps answer some of these questions.
>Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) joined us to talk about how his faith in Jesus Christ influences his work on issues of race, policing and creating opportunity for those living in poverty. He is only one of three African-Americans currently serving in the Senate, and has a unique perspective: as a sitting Member of Congress, he was stopped seven times by police officers on the Capitol campus. Listen to the interview
How can you be a part of justice in your own neighborhood? Here’s one way people are doing it: