Why do we seek justice in the world around us?

In one of our earlier articles we talked about barriers to justice. This means that for a number of reasons, some of the most vulnerable and needy people are unable to get justice in this world. So what is our responsibility and role here?

  1. Justice is not the mission of the Church

There has been a move towards describing mission in very broad terms so that it includes acts of compassion towards the poor, education, campaigns on moral issues and work to fight injustice.  Now all of those things are great things but they are not the Mission of the Church.

In Genesis 12, Abraham is called by God to go to the promised land. God promises him that he will bless him and through him will bring blessing to all nations. Now, what Abraham doesn’t then do is return to Ur and use his influence for greater justice and compassion. Instead he goes where God sends him and trusts the promise that he will have an heir.[1]

You see, it is through the heir that a descendent will come and it is specifically in and through that descendent, Jesus that blessing will come. Blessing comes through being united to and in Christ so that we cannot offer an alternative blessing to the Gospel.

For this reason, the mission of the Church is specifically to Go and Make Disciples of Jesus. In fact, I believe that it is when -and only when this objective is made central to our mission and becomes our all-consuming priority that all of the great things that I mentioned above can happen.

You see, justice may not be the mission of the church but a love of justice is an essential ingredient to and evidence of true discipleship. Justice is an expression of having love for one another -and so this is how people know that we are Jesus’s disciples. Our deeds must match our words.

  1. Justice is a natural outworking of obeying Jesus’ command to love one another

When Jesus commissions his disciples to go and make disciples, he tells them to baptise them and to teach them to obey everything he commanded.  This “everything” must include the command to love one another.

This is why we act to see justice. It is part of body ministry. If one part of the body is suffering then the rest of the body suffers too. So, when I see a brother or sister facing injustice then I share that injustice with them. Likewise, when justice is done for them I can rejoice with them.

  1. Justice is part of common Grace

At this point, our focus is on justice for other believers but do I have a responsibility to seek justice for those outside of the church?  I believe so because

–          There is a sense in which the world around us benefits from having the church among us -it is the overflow of common grace.

–          Our concern for justice is a witness to the World. The Bible calls us to show love to our neighbours and to do good. The result is that they are without excuse and will be compelled to glorify God[2]

Conclusion

There are good reasons why Christians both individually and collectively should be concerned about justice in the World around us. In our next post we will explore some ways in which we might be involved in this.

 

[1] See DeYoung and Gilbert, The Mission of the Church, 30-33 for a more detailed discussion on this.

[2] See 1 Peter 2:11-17 and 3:13-18.

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