Is justice just an act?
— Bryan Lorrits
During my recent opportunity to be a part of Cedarville University‘s Civil Rights Bus Tour, we ended the trip at Fellowship Memphis. In God’s sovereignty, Pastor Bryan Lorrits’ message was on the cultural buzzword of justice.
What is justice? He claimed that it is a term that has been “politically hijacked,” and should be Biblically defined as “using the resources that God has given me for the good of others and the glory of God.” Though I hate annotating patterns for fear they get interpreted as stereotypes, there tend to be three camps amongst American Christians’ view of justice.
- There is the traditional view of most evangelicals until recent years that it is good to give to the poor; but it is more of an optional, as you have extra, kind of thing. Conservative-ish
- Or there is the prioritizing of justice to the point that Christians entirely neglect the relationship with God in the process. Liberal-ish
- Lastly, there are those who love the Lord, believe in His Word, and therefore love the oppressed and act on that love often out of a full understanding of God’s love for them. Moderation-ish
In chapters 14 and 15 of Matthew, we see two miraculous feeding stories back-to-back that are eerily similar yet undeniably unique occurrences. Jesus placed a huge emphasis on justice. He did not neglect people’s stomachs in the process of caring for their souls, a common mistake in my life and the lives of the modern Church.
Two straight feeding stories in two consecutive chapters teach the Church emphatically that Jesus does care about people’s physical well-being; unfortunately, we need to be constantly reminded of this because we often tend to be more spiritual and less humane than our Lord.
— Dr. Dale Bruner
The Christian’s Call to Justice
We also learn in this text that God expects us to use the resources and gifts we have, even when they seem insignificant, towards the pursuit of justice. Yes, though there are countless numbers of children in poverty in the United States alone, if I as a Christian have the ability (though much sacrifice is required) to support that child with investments of time and money, I must. God will make use of the resources He has entrusted to us, big or small, that we are willing to give by combining them with His infinite and miraculous resources to bring about full and large-scale reconciliation. As He used just a few bread and fish to feed thousands, so also can He use my meager talent and resource-set to have a profound impact on somebody or multiple somebody’s lives. The tax bracket of the giver has no effect on the expectancy of the Multiplier.
What puts us in the moderation-ish camp over the conservative-ish camp, as I have described, is the fact that we engage in justice not so that we can feel good, but because fundamentally it is for the Glory of God. We ought to be in awe of God, and God alone, for what He has accomplished in the justice, for He is justice. The moment I begin seeking personal fulfillment or public recognition, my act morphs from a heart of justice to a head of selfishness. God can still use justifying acts from a poorly motivated giver; however, the blessing that could have been received by both is then solely reserved for the receiver.
God’s heart for the impoverished is clear. There is something like 2,350 verses in Scripture to back up His passion for the “least of these.” (Deut. 15:7–8, Jer. 22:3, Micah 6:8, Rom. 15:26, Gal. 2:10) A word study on righteousness will reveal that the most righteous people are those whose righteous deeds are directly linked with doing justice to the poor. Frankly, as Lorrits shared, if we can sleep at night or drop a check in the “benevolent offering” without any heart-connection to those in need, it might be a sign that God is not actually in us. I am not proposing a works salvation, but I am re-iterating that a lack of true justice is a good litmus test result of a fake Christian. When I engage in misfortune, I exhibit a telltale the fruit of justice.
Because ultimately, the question is what are we doing with HIS money? We are merely managers and not sovereign owners. Justice deals with our hearts, not just our actions. This idea hit me hard. I have been supporting a young boy in Mozambique for the past four years through WorldVision. This could be a fantastic opportunity for justice, and I trust that it has been for Eugenio. However, I have failed miserably at keeping his face in my mind’s plasma screen and having a heart that yearns for his success. I am working to develop this love, and I would appreciate challenge from those close to me for accountability in this. If I truly had a mindset that that money supporting Eugenio’s education and the food is money that I was merely stewarding rather than owning, my heart could rest in the fact that God’s stuff was helping one in His Image.
At the end of the day, we were all at one point “the least of these.” Though I have never been physically poor, thanks be to God, I was poor and in fact dead in my sin and spiritual poverty. Yet God earned justice for me through dying a humiliating and excruciating death so that I could be made rich. How then can I justify (no pun intended) dropping extra G’s on the bigger and better when my neighbor’s kids are going to bed hungry?
The blood of Justice flowed from the tears of His heart and the whip on His back to redeem me. Therefore justice should flow from the tears of my heart rather than the pat on my back to scream HE.