Justice: Is It Even Worth It?
October 29, 2013
Updated March 4, 2014
3 comments 67 views
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. - Martin Luther King Jr.He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you?To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. - Micah 6:8
In the Form of Ordination for Deacons it says "In Christ's name the deacons relieve victims of injustice". If you asked around most people would say they know what injustice is. Pressed for an example you may hear things like "injustice is people starving", "injustice is people without a home", "injustice is people being poor". Are they wrong? No, I don't think so. But hearing answers like that always makes me wonder - do we, as Christians, tend toward thinking that injustice is the lack of material wealth or provision?
Sometimes injustice is simply defined as a "lack of justice". Justice itself is a concept we don't always fully understand. Diaconal Ministries of Canada (DMC) defines biblical justice as "the heart of who God is and what God does. It is known, not primarily through philosophical speculation, but through observing God’s actions to liberate the oppressed, and through heeding God’s word in the Law and the Prophets to protect and care for the weak." DMC goes on to say that justice is all about relationships. And that justice "requires us to seek to change those societal root causes in such a way that the individual is again able to live out his or her God-given calling within a community."
This concept about justice is supported by the book When Helping Hurts, which explores what poverty is and how we can work to alleviate it, without hurting the poor. In the early pages Corbett & Fikkert define poverty as "the result of relationships that do not work, that are not just, that are not for life, that are not harmonious or enjoyable. Poverty is the absence of shalom in all its meanings". Acknowledging that poverty exists when one of our foundational relationships (with God, self, community or creation) experiences brokeness we will quickly realize that each and every one of us knows poverty in a real sense in our own lives - whether that be a poverty of spiritual intimacy, a poverty of being, a poverty of community or a poverty of stewardship.
As a deacon team we are called to lead our congregations in fighting for justice. This can be a daunting task. Perhaps you look around your congregation or community and wonder where to begin because you see injustice everywhere. Maybe you are at the opposite end of the spectrum and you look around and don't see injustice. (DMC has identified 8 vulnerable people groups, which may help you see places of injustice). Regardless of where you are at it's possible that the idea of pressing on and fighting for justice - for reconciliation - for right relationships makes you feel weary. Perhaps you even find yourself asking that question "is justice even worth it?".
If that's where you are let me say just this: YES. Fighting for justice is worth it. We need to remember that this isn't some US and THEM battle we're fighting. This is an US battle. To live and work for justice is to build relationships - and that will take time - but it is time for the kingdom, and well worth it because when you know those with whom or for whom you are fighting it stops being US and THEM - there is no separation - and you will come to discover that "is it worth it" isn't even a question you ask because the answer is obvious.
A few months ago a friend of mine sent me the link to a 2 minute video called "Is Justice Worth It" which I found quite powerful. With eloquence and passion it answers the question it poses. (And obviously I was impacted enough to borrowed little bits from it for this blog).
Justice will require effort - but it is always worth it. NEVER cease doing good.
How are you (or your deacon team) living out justice in your community?
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I always wonder why the plight of babies in the womb is often overlooked. It is the biggest human atrocity the world has ever known. 42 million pre-born babies are killed worldwide every year. Many of those right around us! From conception onward, these are human beings - just at a different stage in life. Human rights should start when human life starts! Please let's not forget about the unborn (pre-born)! Diaconal ministries can help by supporting Pro-life and Right to Life groups. With knowledge comes responsibility.
In our Contemporary Confession 'Our World Belongs To God' we confess:
"Life is God’s gift to us,
and we are called to foster
the well-being of all the living,
protecting from harm
the unborn and the weak,
the poor and the vulnerable."
"He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it."
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
No one wants universal justice. If we did then the universal congregational prayer would be for Jesus to return and make everything right/just. The vast majority of congregational prayers are about half way measures and personal new deals of the cards. Prayers that God will change history to meet our requests boggle my mind.
What we want is justice applied to other people and mercy applied to ourselves. If Christians in the US wanted to be obervers of the law which goes hand in hand with the concept of justice then the accident rate on the freeways would at the least be cut in half.
Thanks so much for your thoughtful and, obviously, thought provoking post. I love the video too and plan to share it as well. Do Justice!
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