whispers of glory: why social justice matters

i have had an overdeveloped sense of justice pretty much my entire life.  "it's not fair!" was probably one of my most-voiced complaints as a kid, and to be perfectly honest, it's probably one of my most-voiced complaints to God about any number of things now.  there is something woven deep into the fabric of who i am as a person that cries out for things to be right and just and fair.

and i've never had a problem with that, even on the days when i feel like a lone voice for something, because justice is something God values, too.

look at what God says about Abraham (that tells us something about God):
The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed?  For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.” - Genesis 18:17-19 (NASB)
what Moses says about God:
He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. - Deuteronomy 10:18 (NKJV)
what Micah says about people (that tells us something about God):
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God? - Micah 6:8 (NASB)
and what Jesus says about God:
"And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?  Will he keep putting them off?  I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly." - Luke 18:7-8a (NIV)
justice matters to the heart of God - and as image-bearers of God in the world, it should matter to us, too.  he is not okay with injustice, and neither can we be.

i was sixteen the first time i fasted, and i had no idea what i was doing or why, so i looked it up in a concordance, and came across these verses in Isaiah 58 (6-10):
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter - when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?  Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.  Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.  If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.
and so fasting became a piece of my cry for justice.  but so did sharing my food, or buying it for people who needed it.  so did hospitality - welcoming people into my home.  missions trips.  giving.  etc.  these verses became (and continue to become) a way of life.

there is so much broken in the world, and some of us will be called to go and do big things to fix big problems, because loving God and loving people are what we do as Christians.  but we are all called to be the hands and feet of Christ where we are, and to address injustice where we see it.

"social justice" means a lot of things to a lot of people.  it can and does mean addressing big things like sex trafficking and child slavery and the oppression of women.  but it can also mean addressing big things like taking in a homeless person or buying groceries for a single mom or having a tough conversation with someone who is causing spiritual or emotional abuse.  it can mean writing a blog post or fixing someone's car for free.  it can mean speaking to thousands of people, promoting awareness of a certain kind of injustice, or talking with a group of friends at a coffee shop about how to make Christmas better for the widows (and widowers) and orphans in your community.  it can mean speaking up about the value and importance of friendship between men and women in circles where it is frowned upon, or fighting for equality in places it does not exist.

"social justice" can mean a lot of things - but what it means to me (and to all of us) is doing what i can - in prayer and fasting and in action - to be a justice-bringer.

social justice matters because wanting justice and bringing it to pass is a way of imaging God in the world.  it speaks of who He is: the One who promises - and brings - justice; the One who came to free us.  every chain loosened and cord untied whispers His glory.  every person freed from oppression, every yoke broken, every hungry person fed, every wanderer given shelter, every situation into which the hope and truth and life and light are spoken whispers "this is our God - the One who rescues us!  the One who rescues you..."

and maybe the ones who don't know Him - the ones who don't even know they need Him, who see only their situations and are amazed that you would help them - maybe they will find Him in the freedom that is waiting on the far side of injustice.  maybe they will see Jesus - through you.

my prayer is that they will.


This post is part of a synchroblog called What Is Social Justice Really?  You can read more about this topic from other bloggers who participated by following the links below (and be sure to check back Wednesday evening for the complete list):

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