Is justice a lifestyle or a month?
In America, January means the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights activists, and legislative change. It also draws attention to current injustices continuing at the local, national and global levels. Every January seems to be a celebration of progress and lament of on-going oppression.
David’s song (Psalm 37) acknowledges the sting of wickedness and the hope of justice. The Prophetic writings regularly draw attention to corrupt systems and institutions whose actions counteract the compassionate heart of God. Most of the time, those messages are directed at the people of God and deal with internal inconsistencies in their ethics. From time to time, they look outside the people of God and call for a merciful adjustment on behalf of vulnerable people.
There is never a shortage of injustice that must be addressed. It can be overwhelming to think of the gender, race and sexual inequities and persecutions happening at any given moment. It would be much easier to think everything was good, or at least improving.
We appreciate that the month of January holds celebration and lamentation in tension. Much has been done, and much more needs to be done. Jesus began his public ministry claiming an Isaiah prophesy as a basis for His work (Luke 4.18-19). Liberty and justice to the most vulnerable was one of His first and most frequent teachings.
At this point in American history, the words diversity, equity and inclusion are all around us. In the aftermath of the pandemic, institutions are being reconstructed or facing demise. The Church is uniquely suited to embrace this cultural moment because the Church is an eternal advocate for justice.
When we choose to follow Jesus, we choose a lifestyle and ethic that consistently confronts the injustices it encounters. Justice for all won’t be realized until the ultimate consummation of God’s kingdom. Until then, the Church labors for justice, celebrating victories and lamenting obstacles along the way.