Micah 6:8 ESV
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Our family has been moved to engage in issues of justice for many years. Nita and I were first deeply moved by the plight of at-risk children when we learned of modern day injustice, particularly against children as child soldiers, victims of slavery, victims of sexual abuse, and other atrocities.
In her blog post, Nita describes our perspective.
“Doing Justice” isn’t always easy to pin down. Especially when injustice is so prevalent, or so a part of the status quo, we don’t even see it.
Justice does not simply mean that the “victims” are rescued and the “perpetrators” are punished; I see that as simply “Vengence”.
True justice means that every violation is made right. We say justice should be blind, and I think that’s true in one way. A “perpetrator” almost certainly has been a “victim” in many ways, obvious and subtle. A “victim” is sometimes also a “perpetrator”, although blaming the victim is no less just than vilifying the perp. A blind judge could be just if the labels of “victim” and “perpetrator” are erased, and if all the facts are evident. Unfortunately it’s not practically possible for a human judge to know all the facts.
True justice can only come from a judge that sees everything, and loves impartially.
2 Corinthians 5:10 ESV
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
I’m thankful that Jesus is our Righteous Judge.
Does this mean that we sit back and ignore suffering and injustice, waiting for divine intervention?
I think not.
As the church we are the body of Christ. We are his “hands and feet” here on earth. As we walk in obedience to him (James 1:27), we effectually execute justice on his behalf.
James 1:27 ESV
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
The danger lies in the church veering into judgment or retribution. We have a long and tragic history of this happening. Any critic of the church needs not look far to find injustice perpetrated in the name of “righteous judgment”.
Yet even Christ, the appointed judge of the world (John 5:22), has chosen to defer judgment to the “last day”, instead focusing on salvation for the present. (John 12:48)
John 12:48 ESV
If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.
If Christ, the head of the church, chooses to defer judgment, and instead seeks salvation for all the world, should we, his ambassadors do any less?
My conclusion? I must push into the side of Justice that is compassionate. Seek to make right what is wrong, even for the “perpetrator”. Refuse to give way to vengeful excesses. Above all seek the salvation (healing, deliverance, restoration) of the world.