What do our scriptures say about justice?

by | Sep 11, 2017 | Not In USe

This is the second article in a bimonthly series by the Economic Inequality Task Force of the DSC Board of Church & Society that offers guidance as to why and how the church should be involved in social justice concerns.

By Rev. Paul Self-Price

For us, the word justice is laden with meaning especially in a time when law and order are of such concern on many fronts.

We know that Jesus addressed situations in which people were exploited or persecuted or experienced prejudice. The issue of wages arose with the workers in the vineyard. (see Matthew 20:1-16) The so-called Gerasene Demoniac was chained in a cemetery because of his behavior. (see Mark 5:1-17) Samaritans and Gentiles were looked down upon by the Jewish hierarchy because they didn’t observe all of the laws of Judaism. (see John 4:9; 18:28; and Acts 10:28) And, those who were poor and/or ill were deemed unclean by the religious authorities which rendered them unable to worship and receive forgiveness at the Temple.

At the core of Jesus’ treatment of these and all people was justice.

“…with liberty and justice for all.”

When we speak of justice in everyday conversation, we usually have the law in the back of our minds. We feel the wicked should get their just desserts while good, law abiding citizens should expect to live lives free of fear of being molested or robbed or other forms of interference. That is one notion of justice. There is another way of looking at justice that has little to do with obedience to the law. It relates to the question we’ve all voiced when confronted with a horrible situation, “Why doesn’t God do something about that?” We would like for God to wave a wand to ease our discomfort and sense of powerlessness in the face of whatever it is that pricks our conscience. Usually, in such instances, there is some form of injustice being perpetrated that we perceive.

God loves justice

“And the word of the LORD came again to Zechariah: ‘This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.” Zechariah 7:9

God’s concern for the poor, the marginalized, the disenfranchised, and yes even the immigrant is well-documented and can be illustrated again and again by citing scripture. This concern gets expressed in both the Old and New Testaments and should come as no surprise. The shock comes when we are reminded that we, as the Church, are among those God uses to do something about that.

There is injustice taking place on a grand scale within this country that lies at the cause of much that is wrong. It impacts drug use, poverty, despair, and the very things that hold this nation together. That injustice is the economic inequality that currently separates the extremely rich from an ever-growing underclass. When opportunities dry up and good jobs are harder to find, and there doesn’t seem to be anything anyone can do, nothing good will happen. As we are seeing, even worse things are happening.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus explains his ministry to John’s disciples.

Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.

The Church has been self-limiting regarding the issues it addresses shying away from economic injustice, to name one.  After all, money is currently a competing god within our culture and a powerful one at that. However, justice, God’s justice, calls us to become part of a solution that will restore hope and faith to people who have lost both.

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Author: DSC Communications

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