The Role of Christians in Justice
Jul 27, 2020 · Courtney Jacob
Right now, issues of injustice are trending in the news and on social media. Many of us are paying more attention to issues of equity and justice than ever before. And this is good. But it is important to note that, for Christians, justice should never be merely a passing fad. Scripture is clear that God calls us to live lives that seek justice in his world. Yet even strong Christians have questions about what this calling looks like: How can I make a difference in the face of so much injustice? According to the Bible, what is my responsibility as a follower of Jesus? What am I supposed to do when confronted with the heart-breaking reality of injustice in our world?
In our Groundwork series, “The Justice Calling,” we’ll turn to scripture to answer these and other questions. To guide our study, we’ll reflect on the book The Justice Calling: Where Passion Meets Perseverance by Bethany Hanke Hoang and Kristen Deede Johnson. Together we’ll root our understanding of justice in God’s perspective, as revealed through scripture and we’ll unpack our role as Christians in responding to injustice and pursuing justice.
Justice in the Bible
The theme of justice is woven throughout the whole of scripture. We can trace it through the Pentateuch, the Psalms, the Old Testament prophets, Jesus’ ministry in the Gospels, and the New Testament Epistles. God’s Word demonstrates that God himself has a deep concern and a heart for justice.
Studying the theme of justice in all of scripture reveals a couple of important truths:
- Biblical justice is not only about retribution for injustices committed. In its fullness, biblical justice is about the flourishing of all people.
- Biblical justice is tied to righteousness; much like Amos 5:24, justice and righteousness go hand in hand, where you find one in scripture, you will also find the other.
- Justice and righteousness flow directly from God’s own character.
Understanding the full biblical definition and God’s perspective on justice hopefully relieves some of the confusion about what justice is, but it doesn’t necessarily relieve the pressure we might feel to bring it to reality here on earth. It doesn’t help us know where or how to begin. In the introduction of The Justice Calling, co-author Hoang describes this feeling as paralysis. But as she does so, she reminds readers that the answer is Jesus:
“Justice rooted in Jesus broke open for me the possibility and promise of persevering hope—the possibility that I could shed my paralysis and actually move forward one small step at a time because there is a God who is and will be victorious over injustice” (p. 4).
Jesus Christ who brings us salvation also brings justice. Kristen Deede Johnson, the co-author of The Justice Calling, joins our Groundwork conversations in the episodes, “Justice, Heroes, and Jesus” and "God's Church Seeks Biblical Justice" to explore more fully how this truth impacts how we think about and engage issues of justice in our world today.
Now What? Called to “Do Justice”
So now what? What is our role, what are we as Christians—both as individuals and as the Church―supposed to do in response to injustice and in order to pursue justice?
Hoang and Johnson offer a concise answer in their book: “God calls his holy people to seek justice on behalf of those living farthest from his vision of shalom so that all in the community might flourish” (p. 27). That echos the words of the Old Testament prophet Micah:
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).
I invite you to answer God’s call to seek justice and act justly by strengthening your understanding of biblical justice through our Groundwork series, “The Justice Calling”:
- Justice and Righteousness - Micah 6:8 and Romans 3:21-22
- Justice, Lament, and Flourishing - Luke 18:1-8 and Exodus 20:8-11
- Justice, Heroes, and Jesus - Isaiah 1:11-17, Hebrews 7:23-8:2, Matthew 5:1-12, and Ephesians 1:18-23
- God's Church Seeks Biblical Justice - John 1:5, Acts 6:1-7, and Galatians 6:9-10
...and together we’ll find relief from the overwhelming “justice paralysis” by remembering Jesus, we’ll continue in our understanding of God’s perspective on justice, and we’ll be encouraged to continue pursuing justice in our life and the world today.