Here’s another awesome blog from J Foster unpacking what justice is all about.
Last week I had one of those moments in which you either laugh or cry…
I had taken a friend to A&E as he’d broken his ankle. We’d spent the customary 3½ hours in casualty where my friend was sorted out by the amazing folk that live and work within our NHS. As his plaster cast was setting I went to retrieve the car from the side street in which I’d parked so I could collect him from the entrance rather than have him walk/hobble on crutches too far.
Off I strode confidently through the darkness (it was half past midnight by then) and as I went I was texting my friend Pete. Eyes down, walking and texting……in the dark………….. THUD!
Something whacked me in the chest and I looked up to see what had brought me to a most unexpected halt. It was a relatively small yet sturdy tree! A little startled, I took a step back and to the side before I carried on for a few paces until I realised something was wrong…I couldn’t see! Where had my glasses gone?! And how did I not notice straightaway!?
I have terrible eyesight and in the darkness I had no choice but to get onto my knees and start to sweep my hands around on the pavement hoping I’d encounter them… As the minutes ticked unsuccessfully by the thought occurred to me that I would have to return to A&E to ask my friend to hobble up the road on his crutches, leg in a cast, to see if he could see where my glasses were before I could drive him home! Ridiculous…
One last look I thought, and felt such relief when my fingers fumbled upon the familiar frames nestled in a gap between two curb stones. I jogged to the car and returned to collect my friend who cheered up enormously when I told him my tale of woe on the drive home…
It’s not quite a fig-tree (check out last month’s blog) but sometimes God speaks to us through these little incidents. As I reflected upon it I wondered how often we walk through everyday life and become blinded to what’s happening around us without even realising? And then once we realise we’re not seeing things quite as we ought to, it can be really hard to find our way back.
We’ve seen within the pages of Scripture that justice is central to the character of God, but what exactly is it?
The best definition I can come up with is this - Justice is the drive to ensure that all people are heading towards wholeness and reconciliation with God and their community. Injustice, conversely, is any action (or inaction) that places a barrier in the way and thus frustrates that process.
It is clear therefore that the big stuff like global poverty, unfair trade agreements, slavery and the like fall into the ‘injustice’ category but global problems only exist because millions of individuals make similar choices. It really does boil down to our everyday selfishness, greed and apathy being the root of the problem.
That leads us to another issue – if God were to get rid of ‘injustice’ I don’t think there would be many of us left.
…And that sobering thought directs us to the Cross.
It is certainly God’s design that His justice will be achieved in His creation and He undoubtedly calls each of us to participate in that but it is not just a case of doing lots of stuff – we need to be different.
It comes so naturally to us to be self-centred and apathetic; to consider our own comfort to be the most important thing in life. We’re so immersed in our culture it becomes hard to realise that we can’t see properly anymore let alone see a different way of being… and yet the voice of the prophets’ call and the example of Jesus beckons us to lift up our eyes and see things in a new way.
When we straighten up and put our ‘glasses’ back on, we see that the antidote to selfishness is love. The best way to overcome greed is to love. Want to escape apathy? Guess what motivates more powerfully than anything else…
To understand justice and to be motivated to give our lives to pursuing it starts and ends in a faltering, unsteady but genuine pursuit of God’s love for each person He’s created – including you. Without a shift in our hearts to see ourselves and others as God sees us we’ll end up in an exhausting cycle of guilt, shame, frustration and hopelessness – and that’s not what I see in the Bible.
So what shall we do? Well, next month we’re going to explore what our response to ‘justice’ might look like. Until then, take some time this month to ponder what love really is. It may be helpful to read 1 Corinthians 13 and try to imagine how differently your friendships would look if you applied every single word of love’s description in that passage. Ask Him each day to help you “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18-19) and we’ll catch up in a few weeks time.