Defining Justice

Defining Justice

Originally published onDevotion.al

Psalm 52; Jeremiah 21:11–14; Revelation 21:22–22:5

“This then is how you should live, begin your morning by administering justice. All those who know and follow the will of God will rescue people from their oppressor, particularly for those whose God promised gift has been stolen from them.” [A paraphrase by Ian]

There is no question that oppression, justice, and theft are phrases that are repeatedly thrown around right now. How they change from place to place and culture to culture also cannot be ignored. There is also a historical aspect to this as the time of Judah and Israel what was meant by this was pretty clear cut.

Today, it isn’t so clear-cut. There are several possible reasons: (1) we’ve made it too complicated, (2) our understanding has matured, (3) we are applying worldly concepts and understandings to Biblical ones. There are probably a couple of more.

In almost all societies in history, there is a gap between those who “have” and those who “have not”. How “having” is just or not is part of the question. For many, medical care is a matter of justice (and they have a lot of unjust things to point to). For others, medical care is a personal matter of responsibility (and they can point to a lot of unjust things, too).

Matters of justice include (depending on perspective) skin color, national origin, first language, career, order, social standing, economics. From the standpoint of the Law, what was oppression and stealing was very clear cut. That doesn’t mean that the Law was followed, hence Jeremiah’s statement about starting the morning with justice. Where it gets really difficult for many of us is beyond the Law version of justice. A great many Christians from the early church to today believe that Jesus went beyond the Law to Love God and Love Others. Yes, that is the summation of the Law and the Prophets provided by Jesus. Yet, Jesus also commands to not sin, and he expanded (yes, expanded) the concept of sin from actions to relations.

Administering justice is easy when it is written down and defined sharply, though some of the gymnastics lawyers and judges go to redefine things gets interesting at times. So, what happens when it is relationships? If you want a simple answer, I’m sure someone sells a book on it.

Justice is not the same across all situations. It would be nice. Different people, different contexts, different histories, create different justice. Yep, there. A different justice.

※Reflection※

  • How do you emotionally respond to different justice issues?
  • How do you think through the Law and Jesus when you think about justice issues?
  • Why is it worth, and why is it essential, to wrestle with justice, especially in the light of the City of God from Revelation?

※Prayer※

Lord, help us to live, love, learn, heal, and reconcile all things and peoples justly; where you define just. Amen.

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