It’s Time to Stop Talking About Justice

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I am tired of Christians talking about justice. I am sick of hearing church leaders debate the role of the Church in seeking justice. I really don’t want to read one more post about how doing justice is a matter of understanding the right things.

This week, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is built on the site where Jesus was crucified and buried, closed its doors in protest of unjust taxation by the local municipality. Thankfully, the Israeli Prime Minister is intervening in the dispute. But this case is just one reflection of the ways that Palestinians are being slowly squeezed out of Israel and the occupied territories. If we listen closely, we can hear the voices of Palestinian Christians, gasping at the Church worldwide, exclaiming “We can’t breathe!”. And most of us are turning the other way.

God is still speaking, still beckoning us to seek the Lord and live. But sometimes it looks as though we, as North American Christians, are spending so much time writing, talking, and debating about justice issues that we do not have time to actually follow Jesus in seeking justice.

Seeking understanding is good, but it’s not enough. God doesn’t care about our theology nearly as much as we do. Our calling is not to prove that we are right, but that God is righteous.

It’s time for us to turn and return to God. It’s time for us to listen. It’s time to advocate for the needs of those who are suffering unjustly, even (and especially) when it means that we must sacrifice something.

Palestinian Christians need that, as do others experiencing injustice in our communities and around the world. They need us to listen to them. They need our prayers. They need us to care about their well-being, and to advocate for it with our governments.

It’s time for us to stop talking about justice, and to do justice. It’s time to respond to God’s call to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God. It’s time to seek the Lord and live.

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Community Builder

Good word, Shannon. Thank you for sharing!

Could you share some resources and/or organizations that Americans and Canadians could involve themselves with re: Palestinians and Palestinian Christians?

Participant

Certainly. Here are a few ideas for learning more...

Blood Brothers (book: available for purchase on amazon)

Canadian Friends of Sabeel (website: friendsofsabeel.ca) 

Churches for Middle East Peace (US, website: cmep.org)

Little Town of Bethlehem (film: available for purchase on amazon)

Thanks!

 

 

I love this post. There is another thread going on where the author is trying to separate justice from peace and defines justice only as people following the law and being punished when they don't--which falls far short of a biblical definition of justice. Jesus and the prophets give us a vision of human flourishing that results from right laws and right relationships--which apparently isn't happening for Palestinians. In the context of these breakdowns followers of Jesus need to envision a better way and speak against the oppression--I think being drawn in that direction is evidence of the Holy Spirit at work in one's heart. 

Kris, I don't think that Dan would agree at all with your characterization of what he has said in the other post.

 

It seems somewhat curious that two employees of the CRC OSJ would be loud proponents of ceasing to "talk about justice" inasmuch as the OSJ is the most bountiful purveyor of justice talk of all sorts.  Indeed the OSJ never ceases to call for more justice talk. 

 

I think the author presents a false choice: talk or do.  Actually, there is plenty of room for both.  The OSJ does not have the market cornered on proper knowledge or application of justice.  And it might come as a surprise that many people and congregations are hard at work already doing justice every day.  Locally ,it looks a lot like the early New Testament church, where brothers and sisters looked after each other so that no one was in need.  I have yet to see a church or Christian community where their orphans and widows are left helpless to fend for themselves or starve.  Never.  I see the church reaching out throughout the world with acts of mercy and calls for justice.  There is plenty of room to discuss the practical application of justice principles in our lives and societies and to be involved daily in doing what is just.  I see no need to pit one against the other as if they are mutually exclusive.

 

There are also many areas of more pressing Christian persecution or distress than Palestine.  Voice of the Martyrs tracks persecution throughout the world.  Many Christians pray daily for persecuted brothers and sisters around the world.  Almost every church I have attended in my life does as well.    Christians cannot be "all-in" on every injustice.  It simply cannot happen.  I can understand why Palestine and the Middle East are a particular passion for Shannon.  Other Christians will focus their passion other places.  That doesn't mean they have no interest in justice or are not hard at work every day in their daily walks doing justice in how they live, work, and interact in their communities.

 

Participant

Thanks for your comment, Eric. I think you are misreading the post. I do not ask people to choose between talking about justice and doing justice. I state that Christians are spending too much time talking about justice, and too little time doing justice.

I wonder why you think that Palestine and the Middle East are a particular passion for me. I do not think we have ever met or corresponded with one another.

 

Hi Shannon.  No, we have never met each other, but i have read a lot of what you have written, and you have a digital footprint that makes parts of your life story "knowable".  For instance, in one article (https://www.thebanner.org/departments/2017/01/getting-to-know-your-muslim-neighbors) you describe yourself as an "Arab American and daughter of a Muslim".  It is this type of background as well as emphases of articles that you write that lead me to conclude that you have an understandable passion for Palestine and the Middle East.  You are free to correct me if I am mistaken.  I do not begrudge you that passion at all, and I intended no negative connotation in making that note.  In fact, I think it admirable for you to speak concerning subjects about which you may have passion.  I was merely saying that in the context of noting that other Christians will have other areas of passion, and it is also totally fine for them to focus there energies there. 

Hi again Shannon.  Statements such as "It’s time for us to stop talking about justice, and to do justice" carry an implicit message of either/or.  I will concede that you did not explicitly posit that one necessarily excludes the other, but it seems to me that if you simply wanted to encourage justice action, there was no need to couch that call within a simultaneous call to stop talking about it.

I'm also not convinced that you are in a position to judge that Christians are spending too little time doing justice.  Are you shadowing the lives of a significant number of Christians that you can make this statement?  Just because Christians aren't doing justice in ways that are visible or acceptable to you does not mean that they are not doing it early and often. 

It also seems curious that you posit talking and doing as somehow unrelated.  One of the main messages of the OSJ is that talking *is* doing.  The OSJ has innumerable articles, tweets, etc. that spur church members on to talking about/advocating about justice issues as a form of justice action.  The "Do Justice" blog is full of such calls.  Hence my confusion at the focus of your article.  If your article had been basically a call to "spur one another on toward love and good deeds" ala Hebrews 10:24, you would have garnered a hearty amen from me.  It was the call to "stop talking" (as if this talking is keeping Christians from acts of justice) and the ungracious/unfounded implied judgment that Christians aren't doing acts of justice if you can't see them or if they don't meet your priorities that led me to challenge the article a bit.

Participant

Hi, again. I think we are looking at my comments from pretty difference perspectives. I am writing this as a pastor, identifying a cultural issue in the Church that needs to be addressed. I am issuing a call to action, not a judgment on God's behalf. 

Right, and I'm saying that some of how you issued your call to action is odd and communicates things that are not necessarily helpful and perhaps you did not intend. 

Thanks, Eric I think you already made that opinion clear in your previous series of posts.

As did you, so...

It seems to me that you would want to understand Dan's position and properly represent it.  Disagreeing is one thing.  Misrepresenting is another.

Community Builder

Thank you, Shannon, for this important reminder that justice is something we do and pursue, not merely talk about. Your post made me think of Isaiah 58 where God seems to make pretty clear that doing and pursuing justice is what we are supposed to be about as God's children in God's world.  And that's because our God had and has a vision for all of creation and injustice has no place in it. It's just like Jesus taught us to pray: "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done. On earth as it is in heaven."  Again, thanks for the reminder!

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is not a Palestinian controlled site.  I find it a curious choice to support your thesis.

Russ Graff

 

Participant

This article explains why this is a threat to Palestinian Christian communities in Jerusalem. 

 

Community Builder

This post does not accurately portray what is being discussed in Jerusalem. The only properties being proposed for taxation are for profit holdings by the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Church (not places of worship, and no Protestant churches in Jerusalem have any such holdings that I am aware of). Such properties would never be considered tax free in the US or Canada, but somehow they had been allowed to do this until now in Jerusalem. Justice must be based on facts.

Participant

This article highlights how this move hurts the Christian community in Jerusalem. Particularly, these lines:

"Taken at face value, this new policy suggests that if in the past Israel viewed the material well being of Jerusalem’s churches as a vital Israeli interest, the same view no longer holds sway. Indeed, this new tax policy, if it is not changed, will severely undermine the viability of many of the Christian communities in the city. Many of these are vulnerable communities, struggling to maintain the Christian presence in Jerusalem under daunting circumstances."