This week a new book site launched to raise awareness on the need of justice for all. The trailer to the book tells my confession of my failure to understand the poor in America. I don’t think I’m the only one who suffers from stereotypes of the poor, or a failure to appreciate the significant problems that a lack of access to justice causes. The new infographic helps show these challenges visually as stories, statistics and the Bible’s call to promote justice for the poor and vulnerable are expressed. A new study guide is available to go deeper in exploring what it means to provide justice for all. Short interviews help raise awareness and opportunity and you can get more involved by signing up to be an advocate in your neighborhood.
Justice for all should be more than a phrase in our pledge of allegiance. Establishing justice is the purpose of our constitution. Equal justice is the goal of our courts. Yet the United States continues to rank near the bottom of the developed world in providing access to justice for all – not just those with money for a lawyer. The consequences are significant. The opportunity to make a difference is even greater. The church can help provide access to justice AND access to Jesus. By reflecting the love of God to neighbors in need, we demonstrate the difference Jesus makes to a skeptical, watching world.
I remember sitting at a breakfast table in a diner in Crystal Lake, Illinois several years ago. I had no understanding of the challenges my neighbors faced in accessing justice. But I was going to find out. Across from me sat Jonathan and Denise. Both were homeless. Both were invisible to the suburbs where they lived. Jonathan had a master’s degree but lost his job in a merger. He was older and overqualified for most jobs and could not find work. The bills mounted, lawsuits came, foreclosure was filed, and his family left him. Denise grew up in a Christian home but ran away because she felt the house rules were too strict. She found herself taken advantage of and trapped in a life she did not want, but did not know how to break free from. Both of them described to me how no one seemed to notice them or care. They were facing charges of trespassing for trying to keep warm in a grocery store.
I was reminded of a man I knew who was despised and rejected by others. He was a man of sorrows and suffering and we esteemed him not. He had no place to lay his head and spent most of his time with the poor and marginalized. He saw their needs and he stopped to serve them. He demonstrated love toward all people. His name was Jesus. Jonathan and Denise both trusted in Jesus that day. The charges were dismissed at court – because they had a lawyer – and they were connected with a local church where a community of faith demonstrated the love of Christ in multiple ways. That is the power of gospel justice. We have great opportunity as Christ followers to serve the legal and spiritual needs of the poor. This is not a mandate that people believe in Jesus to receive services, rather this is a visible demonstration of love in the midst of some of the most difficult circumstances a person can find themselves in as they navigate our complex legal and government systems. What an opportunity to come alongside them. What an opportunity to stop and serve a wounded neighbor in need. Will you make the most of that opportunity? Will you be a Good Samaritan and listen to the voice of Jesus and dare to Go and Do Likewise.