This week the United Nations finalized sustainable development goals to end global poverty by 2030. The 17 goals for accomplishing this objective go into effect in January 2016.
All the goals are important. But I appreciate the international recognition that access to justice is essential to ending poverty. Access to justice enables and empowers people to retain their homes, inherit property, secure safety from domestic violence, live free from exploitation and abuse, establish legal identity and citizenship, obtain and retain health care, and qualify for government benefits.
Specifically goal 16 seeks to “promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all.” To accomplish this government, philanthropist and NGO’s must work together. The White House took a step this week in announcing the creation of a legal-aid interagency roundtable to improve equal access to justice in America. Currently the U.S. ranks 65th in the world for providing access to justice – tied with Pakistan! Theannouncement is worth reading as it lays out well the crisis that exist in this country.
Access to justice is a critical tool for strengthening families and communities. And Christ followers should be leading the way in this work. As I wrote in Gospel Justice,
“If we are to follow Jesus, we must not abide evil. We must not ignore injustice. We must administer true justice. We must respond to the effects of sin with love and grace toward the wounded—and strong resolve toward the systems and individuals that oppress them.
The stories in this book should evoke response. Our modern widow, fatherless, alien, and poor are being deprived justice.
Does it bother you that elderly residents are frequently victims of financial exploitation and physical abuse? They need advocates to intervene in health care issues, guardianships, estate matters, Medicare/Medicaid, and identity theft.
Are you upset that fatherless children comprise the greatest percentage of poor in this country? Does it bother you that many children bounce from home to home, sleeping on floors or in basements? They need advocates so they can stay in their school with friends. They need child support. They need guardianships. They deserve stability.
Are you concerned about the foreigner among us who faces unfair wages or no wages, financial exploitation in loans and tax returns, domestic slavery, sexual exploitation, and physical abuse? These individuals need advocates to cut through the legal and government systems to provide hope and justice.
Can you feel the weight of the poor who encounter legal or government issues for which they cannot receive help… resulting in great stress, fear, and feelings of helplessness.
Some of us misplace our anger. We are bothered by these matters but, blame the victim. We must look to Jesus and the Word of God. God cares about justice for the widow, the fatherless, the alien, and the poor. Jesus was criticized for loving sinners. Jesus knew that broken, hurting people were open to the message of salvation and change.
We have unprecedented opportunity to demonstrate justice, mercy, and compassion.” Pp. 189-190.
I applaud the work of the United Nations in promoting peace and justice. One day that goal will be fully accomplished – not by man, but by God. He is the Prince of Peace. He reigns in justice and righteousness. My vision of a future world is not of a utopia where humans can evolve past sin and its effects. My vision is of a coming Kingdom that will restore all that is broken and right all that is wrong. I can’t make that Kingdom come, but I can use all my time, talent and treasure to pursue the things of that Kingdom.
Let’s lead the way in pursuing true peace and justice. Let’s dare to live that out as we serve our wounded neighbor in need, right in our neighborhood, by providing access to Jesus and access to Justice. That is what it means to be a Good Samaritan as we hear Jesus voice and
Go and Do Likewise!