Followers of Jesus are supposed to be known for love. The thing about love is that it cannot stay with us.
Jesus said, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). In other words, we become a conduit of the love of God. He loves us, we love others.
As we experience the depth of the love of God, as he teaches us what love is, that love must flow out. So it seems natural that as we learn love, we learn ways to express that love to others and the world around us.
Isaiah tells us, “learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:17). Justice in the Bible carried a different meaning than what we might know today. I was reading an article by Tim Keller called, “What is Biblical Justice” that really opened my eyes to the way we think about Justice.
In the Hebrew Old Testament, mishpat is the word translated as justice. Mishpat means giving people what they deserve. For some of us, we immediately think of a punishment.
Justice is more than that, though, it is also giving people their rights. One example is found in Deuteronomy 18. The people’s giving is what supports the priest. This is called their mishpat. So we learn that Mishpat, is giving people what they are due, whether punishment or protection or care.
So what? Maybe the phrase “social justice” doesn’t really capture what God calls us to as Christians. But Biblical justice, at its core, does.
If we are going to live the life that God has called us to, the call of justice is inescapable. When we give all people their due (Biblical Justice) we are righting wrongs, being generous and having social concern, especially toward the poor and vulnerable.
The Pastor’s Place features columns written by a different area church leader each month. Call 940-728-8284 for more information.