Why Should Christians Care about Justice?

christians-justice

The work of AJS is rooted in our belief that Christians are called to bravely pursue justice. We find this calling throughout the Bible – from its earliest books, to the courageous prophets that challenged their country’s failure, to respond to the needs of the poor, and into Jesus’ New Testament teachings and the apostles’ writing. We therefore take seriously Micah’s call “to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God,” (6:8) and Isaiah’s command to “seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, [and] plead the widow’s cause” (1:17).

What is Justice?

But what is justice? Justice looks at the systemic barriers to thriving, at the misuse of power that exploits people’s lives, labor, and dignity. This means that justice is intricately tied to power and seeks to repair harm and inequities. Powerful people (that often includes all of us!) command society’s political and economic resources, and utilize them to maintain power. In this way, they violate the basic rights of others that are essential to justice and cultivate a disordered, violent society, as is the case in Honduras. Justice differs from charity and development as it challenges powerful people and structures that perpetuate cycles of corruption and violence and disenfranchise the poor. This work is essential to lasting development and true human flourishing.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” (1 John 4:18).

Justice impacts our daily lives and access to education, health, employment, and safety, both in Honduras and the United States.

Justice in the Bible

If you’ve heard that justice is not part of a Christian’s life, you’re not alone. While Christians around the world have pursued social change as a part of their faith, philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff explains in his book Call for Justice that the American white evangelical tradition has uniquely seen things differently. This is partly because the Greek word dikaiosunê, which appears hundreds of times in the New Testament, is translated in Latin languages (Spanish, French, Italian, etc) as “justice”, but in English as “righteousness.”

As a result, the North American church only focused on righteousness or limited the idea of justice to vengeance or punishment in courts and prisons, as opposed to the wider vision of restoration. And yet as we read the Bible, we see God saying over and over again, “I love justice.” Throughout the Bible, God denounces greed and calls for the right use of power. God speaks out, cares for, and protects those whose life, labor, and dignity is abused. And God continuously calls for right treatment of the widow, immigrant, and orphan.

Wolterstoff writes, “God asks of you and me that we share that love.” It is a gift and responsibility to be invited into the masterpiece of working in a world to make it better reflect God’s abundant love and justice.

The Continuing Work

For 20 years, AJS has committed to justice in Honduras, and we believe that the work of justice needs to happen everywhere, including in the U.S. Our efforts, no matter how small, build on each other as we long for the day when God’s will is completely fulfilled on Earth.

So every day, our actions paint a vivid and beautiful image of a more just world – where anyone can access quality, low-cost medical care, where indigenous land can pass on to the next generation, and where children enter the classroom feeling safe and with access to all the materials they need to learn and grow. We long for the vision ultimately depicted in Zechariah 8:4-8:

This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each of them with cane in hand because of their age. The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.” This is what the LORD Almighty says: “It may seem marvelous to the remnant of this people at that time, but will it seem marvelous to me?” declares the LORD Almighty.

We invite you to embrace this lifelong journey with us.

Learn More about Faith and Justice

 

Written by AJS co-founder Kurt Ver Beek and Christian philosopher Nicholas WolterstorffCall for Justice talks about the intersection of faith and justice. Through a series of exchanges, the authors explore what the Bible has to say about justice and a practical application of that in Honduras. It is a great resource for Christians looking to learn more about both the theory and practice of justice.

Learn More about the Book >