Justice was the focus as we opened our fall series on the book of Amos last Monday evening. People’s initial concepts of justice focused on punishment and equality, repayment for wrongs and setting things right. Social justice and justice for the poor were also part of our associations of the word.
Justice thus sounds rather negative; to some degree, looking at Christianity and the Bible only reinforces this negativity. God’s justice, after all, demands that those who are sinful be punished. As none of us can be wholly good (the infamous Rom 3:10 & 23 passages clearly state that all have sinned and done wrong), we all deserve punishment. That kind of justice makes many of us uncomfortable.
But there is more to justice than the question of salvation. It is, for instance, a quality of rulers (1 Kings 10:9), even though we today tend not to elect people on the basis of how just they are. Furthermore, it is an “attribute of God, a tool for peace, and it brings freedom” as one of the students said last week. It is something that changes lives, not just for the future but for now. When Jesus came, he came to proclaim justice (Matthew 12:18). Justice is thus part of the kingdom that is already here, something good, and an obligation for Christians.
It is thus right and fitting that we talk about it, even more so as the world around us is groaning under so many injustices: Syria, Ferguson, child immigrants, religious discrimination and persecution in too many places to count, Ukraine, Iraq, the ebola virus, and more…