Browncroft Students is about to engage a powerful topic: JUSTICE. I’m buckling up for an exciting ride! We will be exploring how the Bible defines justice, and what it looks like to follow Christ in bringing God’s peace to earth.
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Justice is very relevant to many cultural discussions of the day. But it’s also particularly important to the middle and high school students in our church. Our students’ generation has a deep desire to right the wrongs of this world. They want to seek out fairness. They want to do justice.
But what does that mean?
Today our world’s culture has a firm grip on the word “justice” in the minds of our students. Justice seems inextricably linked to criminal activity, the justice system, and the relationship between law authorities and citizens.
However, Biblical justice is much richer. In the Scriptures we do find retributive justice (I broke the law, now I must face the consequences). But most often we find restorative justice. This is justice that seeks out the vulnerable — in all areas of life — and works to bring them back to right relationships with God and others.
We see Jesus model this call so perfectly in the Gospels. He saw and sought out individuals and groups that had been harmed by the selfishness of others (the blind, widowed, deaf, lame, etc.), as well as those whose own actions had done harm (Zacchaeus, Paul, Levi… even agents of Rome).
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly…. Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”Luke 19:5-10
Jesus cared deeply about the human dignity of every human being. Through healing, conviction, and forgiveness — and particularly through His life, death, and resurrection — Jesus sought to bring everyone (even entire nations) into right relationship with God and with each other. He sought Biblical justice.
When we are walking with Christ and see an individual or a group being mistreated (or mistreating others) it should evoke a feeling of injustice within us. This motivation should spur us towards loving action, not aggressive revenge. Through HIM WHO IS LOVE we are motivated to restore those hurt and to help those inflicting pain to move towards Christ.
I suspect our students have likely been on both the receiving end (slander, stereotyping, physical bullying, cyber-bullying) and the delivery (deceit, gossip, stereotyping, disrespect) of injustice.
So how can we learn from Jesus? That’s the adventure we’re about to take together.
Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash