This world is not how God intended it to be.
As we look around us, it won’t take long before we see the brokenness, the long-standing systemic injustice, abuse, and suffering that exists.
Any form of injustice is abhorrent to God. In fact, justice is reflected in God’s very character. He is holy and loving. He created every person, everywhere, in His image. His grace is equally available to each one of us, and we are all equally precious in His sight. And He detests the injustices that wreak havoc on the world today: the racial inequalities manifested in the brutal deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and many others; the misery of those that are trapped in poverty, slavery and despair across the globe; the endless abuse, violence, and suffering of the innocent and vulnerable.
God’s heart is seen through his constant call throughout Scripture to “seek justice” (Isaiah 1:17), “show mercy and compassion” (Zechariah 7:9), and “set the oppressed free” (Isaiah 58:6). In the gospels, we see how Jesus unequivocally contradicts the social inequalities of the day as he demonstrates concern and kindness for the sick, the defenseless, the outcasts.
Scripture is emphatic: our worship, our meetings, our busyness in church life is worthless, even offensive, to God if we have no concern or make no practical efforts to care for the persecuted and weak. “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker” (Proverbs 14:31). Our failure to stand up against injustice is an ugly affront to Him. Hate, violence, race-based oppression, and other forms of injustice go against everything we believe as followers of Jesus. If we have truly grasped in our hearts the meaning of God’s grace, we will be compelled to seek justice for others. No excuses.
Yet the pursuit of justice can be far from easy. It can require awkward and uncomfortable conversations. And it can feel incredibly complicated.
Where do we even start?
Here are some initial thoughts. We must:
- Acknowledge the injustice that exists. We must recognize that people are hurting as a result of the profound brokenness in this world.
- Resist the urge to deny or dismiss the issues, or defend “the way things are”. As we accept the depth of injustice around us, it can seem overwhelming. Yet, instead of giving up, we must move to a place where we feel convicted to respond.
- Consider what first steps we must take personally. This may start by simply listening with humility to others who have experienced injustice. We must endeavor to build relationships, to learn, reflect honestly, and identify those “blind spots” that we all have as a result of our own backgrounds, pride, and prejudices. Be quick to listen, and slow to speak.
- Engage with our churches and organizations as they shape their responses. We simply cannot remain silent in the face of injustice. We must lean in, reflect on our values, determine how we must respond, and challenge opposition with thoughtfulness and grace.
- Allow our hearts to be changed. We must cry out in prayer and lament for the injustices in today’s world. We must repent as we confront the hostility, apathy, and injustices in our own hearts, our own churches, and our own nations. We must commit to stand with those who are oppressed and grieving with humility, empathy, and biblical wisdom.
- Be prepared for the cost. The pursuit of justice takes time and resources. It exerts an emotional toll. It may damage relationships that are dear to us. Churches may lose members as they step into areas of discomfort. Nonprofits may lose supporters and funds. Justice requires sacrifice.
- Keep the end in mind. God is reconciling all things to Himself. He is bringing all things in heaven and earth together in Christ. He promises a new age in which brokenness and injustice is overcome on every level. Until this is complete, we are called, as “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14), to move towards the darkness and do the work of justice in communion with Him.
It is in the way we love and value others that the true condition of our own hearts is revealed. More than anything, may we fully live out the command of Jesus to “Love one another…by this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).
May we be people that stand up, step up, speak up, and seek justice for those who need it.