Justice—For the Rest of Us
By Brian Kammerzelt
June 12, 2013
Brian Kammerzelt is an assistant professor and chair of the communications department at the Moody Bible Institute. For more information, visit www.critiquebycreating.com or follow him on Twitter @ProfKammerzelt.
Let’s face it, there will never be a way to simply “add justice” to your life—no seven easy steps to a life of love and justice, no simple measure that lets you feel good about making a difference in your “spare time.”
A biblical life of love and justice requires a deep intentionality that can be intimidating, to say the least.
Nevertheless, no matter who you are, where you are or what resources and skills you possess, God has prepared good works that He intends for you to do—and in fact, that He created you to do (Ep. 2:10). This simple truth empowers each of us to see ourselves as uniquely prepared, uniquely placed and uniquely empowered as agents of change.What’s more is that you are not in this alone. Responding to God’s call for lives of love and justice engages you in the collaborative Gospel movement of the Church that transcends cultural or theological boundaries. You are a part of that movement by divine design. Every day.
God has prepared good works that He intends for you to do—and in fact, that He created you to do.
Every day we can choose to be engaged personally, in community and globally.
Often, injustice is not seen and justice is not done because of the sin and brokenness inside of us all. Prejudice, indifference, pride and entitlement are in each of us, and they need to be searched out.
A life of love and justice must start here—with dying to self so Christ might be glorified through us. Christ redeems us, transforms us and makes us holy so we can love and serve others.
- Pray daily for God to break your heart for the things that break His.
- Work to become a renewed heart and mind, a new creation, a living example of how the broken structures inside us all can be transformed.
- Reflect on any feelings of guilt and lack of compassion.
- Spend time addressing personal conceptions of race, dignity and equality, as well as your responsibility to embrace others.
- Wrestle with your sincerity for social and economic transformation.
This is a matter of our core discipleship in Christ and a disciplined response to God’s heart for justice. As we grow, our lives will begin to naturally manifest a living definition of biblical justice.
Our character begins to follow Christ’s lead as we interact with people through love. His lead is incarnate. This means we are to live among and rub shoulders with those who need us. We can’t love at a distance. You can't commute to a calling. This is the essence of living a life of love and justice—entering into the daily reality of others and reflecting the love of God into their lives.
Jesus did not attempt to meet every need or delegate every responsibility but instead chose to meet specific people in specific places and met specific needs as He came in contact with them. So can we.
In the words of Philip Yancey, “You say you care about the poor. Then tell me, what are their names?”
God enables us, through Christ, to enter into the injustices we are presented with, but we forget that. We fail to remember that Jesus is still at work today and is beckoning us to join Him. All God asks is that we bring to Him whatever position, possession, or potential that He has already blessed us with. He compensates for everything we need, and as we wade in, He works in us and through us.
Only incarnate ministry develops this kind of opportunity. Only there do we change. As we give ourselves fully to the incarnate work of Jesus, we participate in, experience and advance the presence of the Kingdom. Every day.
Engage in Community
Love and justice are fully relational concepts and as such are only revealed through community. God uses a localized community of Christians—the reconciled and transformed Body of Christ—to bring forth the righteousness and justice of His Kingdom. We are to be the realization of divine love in lived social relation (John 13:34-35) and collectively become for the world what Jesus was for the world—announcing the Kingdom, healing the wounds of the world and challenging power structures that perpetuate pain and oppression.
- Is your church community known by a Christ-like love for one another?
- Are there ethnic, gender or class divisions in your Church? Do your staff meetings and outings include and empower everyone? Even the custodial crew?
- Are your people present, visible, and invested locally in the neighborhood where your building resides?
- Is your church community willing to embrace those who are different? Would/could your homeless friend be comfortable sitting with you during a Sunday service?
- Have you wrestled with potential structural reasons for any lack of diversity (ethnic or economic) in the community?
- Is your leadership representative and present among the community?
A disciple of Christ cannot sit idly by or allow his or her community to stay removed from the brokenness of the world. As the poor and the oppressed cry out for justice, they are crying out for Christ and His kingdom. They are crying out for you and me to enter into their reality and literally be the hands and feet of Jesus.
Your community must work together collectively as well as collaboratively with other communities, law enforcement and local government to bring light to dark places and drag darkness into the light. Every day.
Engaging globally is about seeing yourself as a part of the global fabric of the modern world—both locally and globally at the same time. In an every day context, this partly means making choices with our purchases and our voices.
Living in a consumer economy within a democratic government puts a lot of power into your hands concerning daily choices. We all need to learn how to see through the product labels to the names and faces of all those along the production chain. Indiscriminate (and gluttonous) consumption is an injustice all in its own.
Our character begins to follow Christ’s lead as we interact with people through love.
- Are you educating yourself to learn about equitable systems of global production, trade and distribution such as local trade, fair trade and free trade?
- Are you willing to pay more to ensure the names and faces at all parts of the product chain are treated and compensated equitably?
- Are you willing to boycott products made using bonded labor or that cause violence/war, such as some textiles, some jewels and many of the minerals in our electronics?
- Are you willing to be politically active to work for policies that lead the way in ethical trade?
- Are you able to see the foreign or immigrant laborer with compassion? Are you willing to disadvantage yourself to ensure they share in the advantages of society?
Furthermore, engaging globally is not just about being a “global citizen,” but reflects the profound reality of the Global Church: “God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (1 Cor. 12:24-26).
Whatever you think of your personal responsibility to the problems in this world, Christians are not allowed to ignore their brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.” Parts of the body of Christ are living daily with extreme poverty and oppression, so we must find ways to live with them and for them. Every day.
Doing nothing is not an option. Be all in. Be an every day Christian.