Before starting I would like to define justice. The Oxford Dictionary defines justice as: “just behavior or treatment; the quality of being fair and reasonable; the administration of the law or authority in maintaining this.” In the Old Testament justice was often synonymous with righteousness.
News stories of people hating one another are nothing new. Unfortunately, something new is the increased amount of hateful words individuals are writing to one another online whether in comment forums, Facebook, or Twitter (to name a few). Many of these hateful words are in relation to Social Justice issues and people’s different views of situations.
These situations led me to thinking about the role of Christians, and my role as a Christian, in Social Justice issues. I asked myself if Christians should stand for justice. My conclusion was yes and no. I will explain.
The Bible says to:
Live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. – 1 Peter 1:17
This word for foreigners is the same one used when describing the Israelites living in Egypt. As a Christian I should view myself as being part of a different kingdom. The Bible says I have been born again into the Kingdom of God (John 3:5). 2 Corinthians 5:20 says, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors.”
Assuming I am representing the Kingdom of God as Christ’s ambassador, I should figure out what Jesus says about justice and what He did. One verse that I found was:
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. – Romans 12:19
I looked up the word revenge in the Strong’s Concordance and it means to, “do justice” and includes, “to exact of the murderer the penalty of his crime.” This means I should not be seeking justice for myself.
While writing I was reminded of when Jesus had a woman caught in adultery brought to Him. Under Mosaic Law she was punishable by stoning. Jesus told them, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her” (John 8:7). Not only did Jesus not exact justice on her, but He didn’t exact justice on the others who had the stones either!
The fact is that we all don’t deserve what Jesus has done for us. Justice without Jesus looks like hell for us (get the pun). Father God executed justice meant for us on Jesus who took our sins to the cross, as a result we are to:
Forgive one another because God has forgiven you for Christ’s sake. – Ephesians 4:32
As I was reading 1 Peter last week I felt like the following verses spoke very clearly to my role as Christ’s ambassador:
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, ‘Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.’ – 1 Peter 3:8-12
What this means to me is that I need to speak blessing over those who speak words of hate, I need to keep my own tongue from speaking negatively, I need to seek peace.
As a point of clarification, goal of the law is to protect people. If someone is being hurt by someone else and I am in a position to do something about it I need to step in and help. This could look like actually stepping in or it could be calling the police. An example of Jesus doing this is when Peter cut off the high priest servants ear when they came to arrest Jesus. Jesus told Peter to “put your sword back in its place” (Matthew 26:52). Luke 22:51 says, “And Jesus touched the man’s ear and healed him.”
I need to be just but not be the one executing justice! At times I may be working towards social justice but as Christ’s Ambassador my goal is to extend the Kingdom of God everywhere I go. The Kingdom of God is “Righteousness, Peace, and Joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). As always God gives me the choice if I want to put myself under His authority and walk in the righteousness, peace, and joy He has for me.
Thanks for reading and be blessed!