We are celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Dr. King knew each generation must stand on the shoulders of those who went before to advance the promise of justice. Will you take up his challenge? Or will you turn your back on the promise of justice?
The promise of justice requires mutuality
Dr. King famously wrote in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail,
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
I would not be born for another two years when Dr. King wrote from that jail cell. Yet, Dr. King’s challenge would reverberate in my life and so many others in the following years. Are we really caught in an inescapable network of mutuality? Do we believe that what affects one directly, affects all indirectly? Are all people created equal, endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights? Or are some created more equal than others?
The answers to those questions lie at the very heart of justice. If we believe in equal justice under law then we must support justice for all people regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, money or any other status. Dr. King believed all people were created in the image of God. Do you? This simple belief should compel us to speak up for those on the margins and see that they get justice.
The promise of justice requires courage
Dr. King said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
King was a Baptist preacher. He drew heavily on the Bible’s 2,000 verses relating to justice for the poor, the second most prominent theme in Scripture.
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute (Prov. 31:8). Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked (Ps. 82:3-4).”
The Bible commands courage. We must not sit on the sidelines while neighbors suffer injustice because they cannot afford tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees shutting them out of the legal system. Every second in America someone cannot find legal help. As a nation we fail in our promise of justice when we rank 94th in the world for providing affordable access to civil justice.
Will you pick up the torch and continue Dr. King’s legacy in seeking justice for all people?
Download our guide, How to use your law degree for life changing impact to get started
The promise of justice requires being tired
Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus because she was tired. She was not physically tired. She was emotionally tired – tired of injustice. So tired that she refused to give up and give in. No more.
Heroes are made not in radioactive ooze or spider bites. Heroes are made when injustice is so radioactive we are compelled to take action. We are compelled to stand with Dreamers who dream of a better future. We stand with refugees tired of persecution. We stand with women tired of the power that would deny them equal dignity and equal pay. We stand with the pre-incarcerated, incarcerated and post-incarcerated forgotten by too many trapped in a broken criminal justice system. We stand with the millions shut out of our civil courts because they have no right to a free lawyer and cannot afford the help they desperately need. We stand against injustice.
My friend Micah Bournes is a powerful spoken word artist who invites us to be everyday heroes so tired of injustice that we are compelled to do something.
The promise of justice requires singing
Mahalia Jackson was a gospel singer and civil rights activist. My friends at Museum of the Bible recently highlighted the power of her singing voice in advancing God’s heart for justice. Our friends of color understand the power of singing in the face of injustice. We need to sing.
Songs are deep cries of the heart that yearn for the bright hope of a better future. Songs move us to action. We dance upon injustice knowing the victory is won in Christ death and resurrection, even as we refuse to stand idly by in seeing His justice lived out in the present, not yet fully realized, kingdom. We sing.
The promise of justice requires action
I wrote in Gospel Justice that injustice is a noun while justice is an action verb. Injustice exist. We will never fully defeat it until Christ returns. But justice is an action verb. Justice is love in action. Justice wraps itself in love and enters the dark places of injustice “so the poor have hope and injustice shuts its mouth.” Job 5:16
Dr. King, Rosa Parks, and Mahalia Jackson are beautiful examples of courage. They were willing to lay their lives on the line to see God’s justice advance. How about you?
Will you overcome your fear and courageously step out to advance the promise of justice? Neighbors need your help. They need access to justice. Lawyers can provide that and the hope of a better tomorrow through Jesus.
All you need to do is visit www.gji.org/lawyer and download our guide to get started.
If you know a lawyer encourage them to step out in faith. No one does justice alone and they need you. Dr. King needed many to join him in the fight for civil rights. We build justice communities together. Don’t turn your back on the promise of justice. Face injustice. Join us in making the promise of justice available for all in 2018.