The world is unjust. The recent news about Ahmed Aubrey and, more closer to home, the woman who was wrongly killed recently in Louisville, only go on to reinforce that fact. It’s a difficult pill to swallow, but eventually we all have to come to terms with the fact that injustice will always be part of this world. When I was a child, I would always watch tv shows and movies where the good guys fight the bad guys and the good guys always win. Unfortunately, I had to learn that reality is not always so simple. Sometime the bad guys win. Sometimes they get away and the good guys lose. Learning this is almost like losing part of your childhood. This isn’t just some sort of relatively new and modern problem. Humanity has been dealing with injustice since the beginning and we have been experimenting with different ways to bring about justice. Our savior was crucified because of a miscarriage of justice. Even Pilate himself said that he found no wrong with Jesus, yet he was killed anyways. Injustice is a problem that lies at the very heart of humanity, so what should we, as Christians, do about it?
Should we do anything about it?
Yes. Absolutely, definitely, unmistakably yes. There is a temptation among us to say that justice is purely political in nature and that our faith should stay divorced from the realm of politics. That we should just accept that this is the way the world is and pray that one day God fixes it all. The pairing of justice to politics is something brought about in the modern age. Even before there were governments, there was justice. In fact, God was one of the first people to bring about justice. He was the one who punished Adam, Eve, and the serpent, but His punishment was not unfair. He punished them according to what they had done wrong. His punishment fit the crime. A key part of God’s character is that He is just.
Justice is also part of who we are as God’s creation. Ever notice that you don’t need to teach a child about fairness? You have to teach them right from wrong, but they can work out for themselves what is fair and what is not. Just sit two toddlers in the same room and only give one of them a cookie. Immediately, the other will recognize this inequality of justice and throw a fit. This isn’t by mistake but by design. One of the world’s leading Biblical scholars, N.T. Wright, writes about this phenomenon in his book Simply Christian. He says that we are all given this natural sense of justice because it is an echo of our creator whom we are forged in the image of. That is how important justice is to God. If we were to simply ignore it then He would not have made it central to our own souls.
What should we do about it?
Here’s really where the rubber meets the road. It’s one thing to say that we should do something but another thing entirely to figure out what that something is. The absolute first thing we should do is address the injustice in our own hearts. Sin corrupts everything about us, even our sense of justice. Take that toddler from my example earlier and teach it about greed, envy, lust, rage, and all other sorts of vices and keep it separated from anything virtuous and it won’t even be able to give you a vague description of what justice is. The same is true about us. If our sense of justice was like a compass, pointing us towards what God wants for humanity, then sin pushes that needle ever further from North. No one sets out to do the wrong thing, but that’s exactly what happens when sin distorts our perception of right. After all, injustice is not natural. It always stems from one person making the conscious decision to commit evil against another. The truly terrifying thing about sin is that suddenly we may find ourselves justifying our own evil, accepting the injustice that we commit as true and right.
We must first take a very hard look at our own lives as compared to God’s word. Do I truly see everyone as equal to myself, as a child of God created in His own image? Do I put others before myself, as Jesus has commanded me? Do I really strive to honor my father and mother? Do I put the words spoken in the sermon on the mount in my heart? Am I humble, merciful, pure in heart? Do I truly hunger and thirst for righteousness? These should all be questions we spend a significant amount of time on, because our answers to these questions determines if we’re aligned with God’s justice. The answers to these questions ultimately provides us with the worldview we use to decide how we treat others.
After dealing with ourselves, we must then stand up for justice where there is injustice. This is what God does. God’s ultimate plan for creation is to make the wrongs of the world right, and we are to mirror Him by seeking out justice where we find injustice. The church must be the example to the world. We have to be the organization in our community that looks at the injustice of the world and tells the world about God’s justice. This starts with all of us having the courage to stand up and speak out when we see injustice, but it doesn’t end there. It’s not enough just to point out the wrongs in the world, we must also work to make them right. It’s wrong for a person to be abused by their spouse, but everyone knows that. What have you done to make it right for that person? Have you offered them shelter, financial support, or even just an ear to listen? It’s when we do these things that we participate fully in God’s great plan to bring the world to rights.