In his wonderful little book Simply Christian, N. T. Wright identifies “justice” as one of the “echoes of a voice” that drive many contemporary people to explore more deeply, or possibly for the first time, the truths of Christianity and the person of Jesus Christ. At its very core, this drive to explore comes from the very basic, gut feeling, that something is not right with the world; that there must be a better way. Arguably, Wright’s other three “echoes” – spirituality, relationship and beauty – might be understood as subsets of this one overarching echo: justice. Something is just not right. Consider the following.
Corruption. Infanticide. Despotic rulers. Refugee crises. Wars. Violence. Crushing poverty. Sex trafficking. Addiction. Greed. The abuse of the environment. You can easily add to this list from wherever in the world you are reading this. You can feel it. Something is just not right, something is out of kilter, as they say.
In other words, the world as we often experience it is not the vision of the world as it ought to be, as it was created by God to function. And not just to function, to just get by, to barely make it, but rather to flourish, to blossom. Imagine the world being and becoming increasingly a place of beauty, integrity and fellowship.
This brings us to our first-order question, to define justice. You may have a definition of this concept of “justice,” even if you are not conscious of it, that centers on the punishment of the wrongdoer. We might call this definition of justice “punitive” and it may conjure up images of a courtroom being the context for the proper execution of a law code. Certainly, this concept of justice is present within the teaching of the Bible, where the victim may make his or her case to those in authority and await a judgment (see Isa 59:4). But let’s explore a bit deeper what this idea of “justice” might mean.
PRAYER: Lord, we thank You for Your righteousness and Your justice. Thank you for working to make things right again.