How can we advance peace and justice in a world torn apart? The Republicans opened their convention on Monday to the theme, “Making America Safe Again”. Over the past two weeks 2 black men, 8 police officers, 80 pedestrians in France, and hundreds in a Turkish coup were killed. Nearly a daily barrage of no peace or justice.
But what role can we play in advancing peace and justice today?
Gospel Justice Initiative is an organization committed to advancing peace and justice. As Dr. King said, “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.” Wherever the rule of law or access to justice breaks down, peace is in short supply. This is why the United Nations established goal 16, Peace and Justice, as part of the new sustainability goals.
The Rule of Law Index published annually by the World Justice Project objectively creates a justice index for most of the nations in the world. Several categories exist. The United States ranks 65th in the world in the category of providing an affordable and accessible justice system. That ties with Pakistan! We should not tie with Pakistan in anything, especially not in our pledge of ‘justice for all’.
We don’t talk about this lack of access to justice in America. Yet this fundamental unfairness lies at the heart of much of the conflict we see. The injustice in Ferguson existed because of a lack of access to justice. The Ferguson report chronicled numerous abuses by the courts, government and police toward citizens of race and poverty. Our constitution promises to “establish justice”. Why? To “ensure domestic tranquility”. A nice way of saying peace. A lack of justice leads to a lack of peace.
So how do we combat this? How can we best advance peace and justice today? I think we need both a personal and systemic response.
Peace and Justice begins with you!
The path to peace and justice lies through the human heart. Isaiah said, “The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths.” Isa. 59:8. We cannot advocate for change until we ourselves are changed. This is why justice begins with the gospel.
Injustice is hate in action. Justice is love in action. Sadly we have a sin problem that gets in the way of love. Sin is selfishness. I believe I am more important than anything or anyone else. Because my needs matter most, I am willing to win at all cost. I will justify hatred in defense of myself. This leads me to control my surroundings and other people. When I lose that control I lash out at others. I blame them. I fear them. I see injustice everywhere and I fail to experience peace.
You can probably relate.
But here is good news. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Jn. 14:27. When we begin to lose control, fear rushes in. Fear clouds judgment. Fear drives hatred. Peace brings freedom. Peace drives love. And perfect love drives out fear. 1 Jn. 4:18.
God in his justice expunges our record of sin through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. God made peace with us through the death and resurrection of Jesus. We can have peace with him by believing and receiving the free gift of God’s grace. Rom. 5:1. We call this the gospel. This good news changes everything. As people loved by God, we show love for others. True faith demonstrates love. And love is demonstrated through justice for neighbors. All neighbors. We might pledge justice for all, but God commands justice for all.
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The Gospel compels Justice
Nothing grieves me more than hateful rhetoric from those who claim to represent Christ. Many in our nation question the church and Christians today because they observe our words and actions. We are supposed to be Christ ambassadors – his representatives to a watching world. 2 Cor. 5:20. Too often we fall short. Father forgive us.
To my friends who struggle with this, please look to the Bible and not to people. The Bible is pretty clear, “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness… he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.” 1 Jn. 2:9, 11b. “So justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows.” Isa. 59:9.
And in blindness too many have missed the call to justice. God is placing that call. Will you answer? Here are some ways to answer the call to do justice and bring peace to your community.
- Build bridges not barriers.
Grab a meal with a person of color and listen to their heart and the impact our nation’s rhetoric has on them. If you don’t know a person of color – change that!
Send a note or e-mail to your local police. Constantly disparaging police only makes matters worse. Thank them for their service.
Church – get engaged with the community. Do they even know you exist? How about if you start being known more for what you are for instead of what you are against. You are for love, peace and justice.
Actions speak louder than words. Listen to the needs in the community and find ways to serve. Justice is love in action. Take action. We have a free guide that can help. We have a free club for students.
If you are a business support kingdom work in the community. Help launch or start a justice center to provide access to justice while providing the hope of Jesus. Contact us at [email protected] Support your workers. Create a culture of peace at work.
Church. If you want to be relevant to a watching world. Do justice. We have a free guide rooted in God’s word with several actions steps you can take. Consider forming a justice center to establish justice for all in your community.
Dr. King said, ‘hate can’t drive out hate, only love can do that.’ We must stop spreading hate. At the coffee shop when someone speaks hate, will you have the courage to challenge the rhetoric? Let’s stop objectifying blacks, Mexicans, Muslims, gays, Democrats, Republicans, rich, poor. God created each person. Each person needs him. Let’s love, not hate.
I challenge employers to guard the workplace. Hate only tears down. Love builds up. You will serve customers better by discouraging hate.
I challenge pastors to shepherd their flock with justice. Ezek 34:16. We can provide you with resources. Contact us at [email protected]
The body of Christ is a united body. We as Americans are the United States of America, not the Divided States of America. Peace and justice pull people together. Hate and injustice tear people apart. Let’s take action together to advance peace and justice today.
What action will you take?