EFC Monthly | Justice & Righteousness
Last weekend at church was “Compassion Sunday,” a time when we considered the ministry of Compassion International and, in a broader sense, God’s concern for justice, particularly regarding the poor. Justice is a controversial topic these days, a fact that punctuates the observation: We are constantly redefining good and evil at the expense of others. Hence, we need to carefully examine our sense of justice and fairness in the light of scripture. Please take a few minutes to watch the following video. It is an excellent primer into the Biblical concept of justice.
This video does a great job explaining how we are all guilty of injustice and how God responded by sending Jesus, the only truly righteous and just one — and how only in Jesus are we set free from the guilt of our own injustice and unrighteousness. The video then makes a further, critical point, one we often miss: If God declares someone righteous when they don’t deserve it, the only reasonable response is to go and seek righteousness and justice for others.
Most of us have lived in church communities that emphasize the importance of right moral living, such as not lying, stealing, or engaging in sexual immorality. This is essential to walking with Jesus, because all those actions are unjust and unrighteous and they destroy oneself and others. In our emphasis on behaving rightly, however, we often overlook the need to seek righteousness and justice for others. It’s tempting to avoid justice, because justice is messy, hard, and often heartbreaking work — work that involves both physical and spiritual realities. In the midst of these complexities, I am reminded of Jesus’ words, “Apart from me you can do nothing.”
As a church, we long to encounter God in fresh ways, to be changed by Him and empowered to walk with Him. As we explore spiritual gifts and seek the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven, this will translate into good news for the poor and freedom for the oppressed. Just as Jesus gave himself for his enemies, so too will God’s work among us lead us to love and serve our enemies, the oppressors and the oppressed alike. Revival will surely make us stronger, more active, and full of great joy; it may also make life harder and more controversial as we address unjust systems and situations.
Even as I write this, I feel hesitant. Our world, both inside and outside the church, is fracturing; even in writing about justice, I fear being misunderstood. And yet, this is exactly the kind of situation where God likes to move. Only He can unite us, empower us, and make us effective in bringing healing to a world that desperately needs it — thus, the longing both for fresh encounters with God and to walk by faith, trusting that He will lead us and provide exactly what we need for this new season.