Over the past several months, I began to have the realization that I had accidentally done a great disservice to the folks at Antioch.
Somehow, I had allowed the idea that “justice is a good thing, one in the mix of many other good things,” grow in people’s minds and understanding of Justice.
I stewed on this and prayed about it for a very long time.
You see, justice, like truth, is not just “a good thing.”
They are universal things or absolutes. They exist everywhere and every subject touches them somehow.
Most people get this with truth. What is is and what is true corresponds to reality, whether we believe it, understand it, follow it or know it. Truth is a rightness or a certain rectitude between a concept and what exists in the fabric of reality. It is governed by the laws of logic etc.
Justice, likewise, corresponds to what ought to be in the fabric of relationships. Oughts and musts exist whether we believe them, understand them, follow them or know them. Justice is a rightness or certain rectitude between people and societies, structures, policies, cultural norms and laws. Injustice is the breakdown of what ought to be and justice is the existence or the promotion of what should be.
Truth and justice are universals. They are hallmark aspects of creation.
Justice, therefore, is not just a good thing.
Rather, justice is a lens by which we look at and evaluate other things.
I tried with the message below to express what I believe is a paradigm we need to hold with regard to justice – that it is a theological necessity. Our understanding of God should compel justice. And that understanding justice is one of the ways by which we are meant to understand God more clearly.
As the Psalmist writes, “The Lord is known by his justice.” (Psalm 9:16)
When a child walks with, cares about and acts in something the Father does, cares about and works for there is a degree of “like-mindedness” that comes that otherwise couldn’t be there to the same degree. We know God better as we understand justice. “For the LORD is a God of Justice.” Isaiah 30:18
I’ve never tried to swing as hard at a concept in a message before and it turned out to be very provocative, but I feel a strong burden that God desires for us to reconnect the first and the second great commandments. That love of God implies love of neighbor and that love of the orphan the widow and the alien is one of the primary means by which we demonstrate love of God.
“If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” 1 John 4:20
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
There certainly are other things in addition to justice, but justice is, I believe, a theological necessity and more than just “another good thing.”
“Kingdom people seek first the Kingdom of God and its justice; church people often put church work above concerns of justice, mercy and truth.”