Biblical justice is God’s plan to restore righteousness and justice to a fallen world. When talking about biblical justice, the main Hebrew word that comes to mind is shalom. Shalom is a word that is often translated as peace, however it doesn’t simply mean the absence of conflict, but signifies complete harmony and flourishing (Isaiah 11.6-9). In his sermon titled ‘Justice and Poverty’, Tim Mackie addresses how people who live in poverty tell of their experiences not in terms of material resources but of psychological, relational and spiritual terms. Instead of speaking about their need for food, clothing and shelter, their primary battles were ones of hopelessness, isolation, shame and low self worth. God’s heart is to see His children empowered- for us to be hopeful people, living in community, and knowing our worth in His eyes.
The ultimate way we see God bring about shalom is through the crucifixion of Jesus, reminding us that only He can put right all the brokenness in the world. Through the cross, He redeems the sin in our relationships with Him, with others and with creation. His death was the ultimate act of injustice: a blameless person dying for the sin of others, however He triumphed and rose again three days later. We can share in His victory of righteousness and salvation and extend this same grace to others.
Shalom doesn’t stop on the cross, but as new beings redeemed through the cross, we get to participate in bringing shalom to the world (Matthew 6.10). Our justice work is more than providing resources in generosity to provide for people’s lack of basic necessities, but satisfying people’s spiritual and relational needs, and finding dignity as children of God. The flourishing of God’s people isn’t reserved for the righteous, the privileged or the powerful. We are all God’s children- none of us ordinary, but created for so much more (CS Lewis). This extends to how we view and treat others within our community: being attentive to others’ needs and giving sacrificially (Acts 2.42-47) in order to support each other in living a life full of joy, fulfillment and freedom in direction. Instead of ignorantly throwing our money at charities that are ‘really close to our hearts’, let’s sacrifice our most valuable commodity, time, by pouring ourselves out and personally engaging with the injustices of this world (Isaiah 58.10).
For your continued pursuit:
3 Part Justice Series by Tim Mackie (Find Part One here)