I doubt many would disagree with the comment, “Justice Matters”. The challenge is how. For some justice is an abstraction and they spend lots of time just trying to agree on what justice is. They read books and debate. Others love to talk about justice, tweet about justice, and slap justice covers on laptops while talking about the latest justice issue in a coffee shop with friends.
Can I be blunt? I think too many people miss the point. Justice is part of God’s character. Justice for the poor is the second most prominent theme in Scripture. Justice matters to God and so it should matter to us. For those struggling to grasp justice, it’s not complicated. The Hebrew words are Mishpat and Tzedek. Mishpat is about balancing scales. It is the concept of fairness for all, especially those easily taken advantage of. Tzedek is about making things right with God and with our neighbor. It is restoring what is broken, righting what is wrong and is equally translated as righteousness. Justice is how we love our neighbor.
For my friends in the coffee shop, can I encourage you to roll up your sleeves and love your neighbor? Demographically it is highly likely that someone within a short distance of your coffee shop needs practical help. Some justice issues are really big – global hunger, trafficking, challenges of mass incarceration, the broken immigration system. But there are ways you can address each of those on a smaller scale right where you are. Begin by partnering with an expert organization.
I believe one of the greatest unmet justice needs involves the justice system. To talk about justice apart from law is possible, but certainly incomplete. The law permeates everything. And if we are to talk about law it is rather inevitable that we have to talk about lawyers. Why not bring the hope of the gospel, the help of a lawyer and the support of a church together to make real change in local lives and local communities?
Every community has needs. Every community has churches. Why not let the church be known for what it is for – justice – instead of what is against with all that is wrong in the world. Why not a church-legal partnership that pulls together a team of non-lawyers and lawyers to get engaged in serving the legal and spiritual needs of the poor? Consider Ruta.
Ruta was Filipino. She and her husband worked their way through our broken immigration system to come to the United State. Ruta found a low wage factory job but it provided benefits. Benefits her husband needed to get medical care. He had surgery, but began to worry and lose sleep as the bills came flowing in. Then came a lawsuit. Confused Ruta and her husband sought help and learned of a church legal ministry near them. When a team of people came alongside them and a lawyer prayed with them, they were overwhelmed. When an investigation revealed the insurance company had not paid any of the bills because the employer was pocketing everyone’s insurance premiums because they assumed an immigrant work force would do nothing, they quickly learned how wrong they were. With the help of an attorney the employer was made to pay all the bills and right the wrong in the workplace. But Ruta and her husband were most grateful for the compassion and dignity they received by a team of people who loved justice and lived it out.
This is the opportunity of gospel justice. Gospel Justice Initiative exist to engage Christ Followers to serve the legal and spiritual needs of the poor. We want to see people equipped to pursue justice. Pursue justice because that is God’s heart. Pursue justice in a practical way that seeks to serve neighbors and see them restored.
I believe God desires us to get out of the coffee shop and book club and live out our faith in a way that makes a present and eternal difference in the lives of others. Justice Matters. That shouldn’t be a slogan, but a call to action. Let’s follow Jesus and do justice as we
Go and Do Likewise!