A disturbing trend has slipped into the church lately, spotlighted by the pandemic and the 2020 election. We have allowed justice to become political, rather than biblical. What are Christians to do? Is it possible to seek justice for our vulnerable neighbors and hold tightly to the gospel? How do we put God’s agenda for the church before political agendas? For answers, let’s open our Bibles.
Justice is biblical, not political.
Justice for the poor and vulnerable is the second most prominent theme in the Bible. There are more than 2,000 verses on justice, second only to idolatry. The prophets throughout the Old Testament warned God’s people that judgment would come if they did not “establish justice in the gate” (Amos 5:15). Micah, speaking on God’s behalf, asked, “Is it not for you to know justice?” (Micah 3:1) and then called out the people’s greed and hypocrisy. He reminded them that what God required was “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). But justice becomes messy when we lead with political agendas. God is NOT a donkey or an elephant, He is a lion and a lamb. He is the King of Kings; we are citizens of his kingdom first.
The Pillars of God’s Kingdom
God’s kingdom has two pillars – justice and righteousness (Ps. 89:14). These pillars form the foundation of his throne and reflect his character. Tim Keller explains in his book Generous Justice (to be discussed at our first AJ Book Club) that one of the Hebrew words for justice (mishpat) promotes fairness, protection, and care. The other (tzedek) means to restore right relationships with God and others. The root word is the same word translated as righteousness (tzadeq). In scripture, justice calls God’s people to seek fairness and equity in all relationships in society and the family. Biblical justice restores people to right living. And right living requires that God’s people put a stop to injustice in the private and public sphere. From Genesis to Revelation, God is restoring people to himself and one another. As citizens of God’s kingdom, we are called to love God (put away idols) and love our neighbor (put away injustice).
Whether conservative or liberal, too many Christians put politics ahead of God. We neglect “the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness” and focus on tithing mint and cumin (Matt. 23:23). We pursue social issues through the lens of politics instead of God’s word. It is past time for the church to administer TRUE justice as we love God by loving our neighbor (Zech. 7:9)
Justice requires action, not apathy.
I wrote in Gospel Justice that injustice is a noun, but justice is a verb. That may not be grammatically correct, but it is theologically correct! Injustice is the reality of wrongs that exist because of sin. Justice takes action to right those wrongs.
Justice requires movement. Moses tells us to “pursue justice” (Deut. 16:20) and Isaiah says to “seek justice” (Isa. 1:17). Jesus made it clear that we do not pursue justice only for those in the church—the parable of the Good Samaritan shocks us because it is an enemy that provides active and costly care to a vulnerable neighbor and Jesus ends it by saying “go and do likewise” (Lk 10:37).
Jesus, the Great Samaritan, entered our world to put right all that was wrong at the cost of his life. But we have grown apathetic and avoid action, claiming justice is political. Loving our vulnerable neighbors is not political—it is biblical. And we cannot love someone if we do not care about BOTH their present circumstances AND their eternal destination.
Justice demonstrates the gospel.
The pandemic has brought the needs of the vulnerable to the forefront. But what will we do?
Will we pray for things to return to normal so we can get on with our business like the priest and the Levite in Jesus’s parable? Or will we stop like the Samaritan, take action to love our neighbors, and reflect the Great Samaritan who left heaven to heal us from sin? Doing justice and showing mercy is a demonstration of the gospel. In fact, Jesus told the parable to answer the lawyer’s gospel question in Luke 10, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” As followers of Jesus, made new by the power of the gospel, we must follow his example of compassion and mercy.
Jesus showed the gospel must include justice and action by beginning his ministry with the announcement that he had come “to proclaim good news to the poor . . . to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18). When explaining the final judgment to his disciples, Jesus told them when they fed the hungry, clothed the poor, visited the sick, cared for the prisoner, and welcomed the stranger, they did it to him (see Matt. 25:31-46).
Later, John wrote, “if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth.” (1 Jn. 3:17-18)
Justice does not distract from the gospel; it shows its beauty and power. The very heart of justice is the cross of Jesus.
Go and Do Likewise
Justice requires action, demonstrates the gospel, and is the foundation of God’s throne. Christians must seek justice—but how? Justice in America is complicated, involving laws and lawyers. Thankfully, you have a guide. For over 20 years, Administer Justice has partnered with the local church to equip God’s people to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly into the neighborhood where God has placed them.
One in three Americans cannot afford an attorney. Someone near you needs legal help. Will you pass them by, or will you stop to serve? The people at Hope Justice Center chose to stop. Their church opened a gospel justice center in January. Their team is made up of men and women from all walks of life. Together they provide the help of a lawyer and the hope of God’s love to their vulnerable neighbors.
So can you. No one does justice alone and no one should face injustice alone. Administer Justice has removed all the barriers churches might have. No cost. Complete insurance. Easy turnkey model with full training and support.
To explore the opportunity and discover ways to pursue gospel justice today, register for a 45-minute Journey to Justice, an interactive Zoom tour of our mission and vision. Every journey begins with a single step. Take yours today.