I ponder the characteristic of justice a lot.
I continually ask: What is just, right, fair and equitable in the eyes of Christ?
It’s a potent question, at least for me.
Recently, my thoughts have landed on something I think is important to consider in regards to authentic justice in our world today.
Have you ever looked around and noticed how people are saying the same thing over and over, like a broken record? Whether the news or people on social media, it’s the same ol’, same ol’ about what is right and just.
But I don’t believe the championing for true justice consists in constantly parroting the same things over and over – especially if it’s just what others are saying. There is much more than simply declaring what the crowds are saying.
Here’s what I mean.
If the media are saying it, if great swaths of progressives or conservatives are saying it, if the average John and Jane are saying it, one may find themselves missing any stance for authentic justice.
But, goodness me, we see this all the time. It’s almost robotic in the repetitiousness of it all.
I think if we look back and remember those who have stood for what is true, right and good, they always did so at the peril of pain – verbal, emotional, physical – and ostracization from others. Almost no one in their day and time saw any good in what these women and men of justice were truly offering.
So, if one is bashing, say, Donald Trump in our world today, what is so truly great and just about it? Sure, there are folk that think he is a good president and a gift of God. I, too, lament that perspective. But I don’t need to say anything or tweet anything about Trump. There’s no earth-shattering justice in that.
Because it’s simply too easy.
I’ve seen people who won’t even type Trump’s name out. Really? Is that some exceptional stance for justice?
I want to make it clear. Defaming Trump is not standing up for justice. Sorry to disappoint.
Another recent example is in regards to the detention centers. This situation saddens me. If I dug deeper into all that is going on, I imagine I’d fall into deep despair. My goodness, it hurts.
But hammering Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Franklin Graham or any other about the situation just doesn’t seem to embody true justice as God intends.
Again, it’s too easy.
Now, this doesn’t mean justice wouldn’t include a verbal stance on an issue. Very much so. I read the prophets of old and the justice leaders of yesteryear and see their voice proclaiming something integral to God’s ways. As an aside, I am also an advocate of non-violence – so speech matters much more to me than do violent acts.
However, saying something everyone else is saying in the war of words doesn’t really hold much water.
Really? Do you think it does?
It’s like identifying LeBron James as a superb basketball player. That doesn’t take much. But what about the guy in the organization who noticed the player that was on no one’s radar coming out of college and he went on to become an all-star? That’s much more difficult.
I honestly don’t know if I can make a trip to the McAllen border detention center or other such places. I ponder a trip. I’m not sure I really know where to start. Could I get my local church on board to put together hygiene packs to send to a center? Could I get a wider population to assist? I have friendships with non-profits and other faith communities. Or what about a phone call to the office of my state representative to ask what would help?
But what I see today reminds me of the resounding gong and clanging cymbal that Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 13. He’s addressing a different situation. But the imagery is appropriate. I know I’ve been there at times.
So, let me make it clear. I don’t believe one “standing against Trump” is enacting any great work of justice. No one hash-tagging on Twitter about the detention centers is living justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with our God (to reference Micah 6:8).
Again, as the Staples button says, “That was easy!”
When we start proclaiming a message that catches people off guard and, perhaps, we find that massive amounts of people think we’ve gone off the rails, that may be a better indicator of whether we are championing the right and just ways of God. I’m not advocating crazed people nor practices. But if everyone around you is clapping for you and patting you on the back (or giving you likes on social media), you may need to reconsider whether you are truly advocating justice in our world.
Even more, living out and sling justice, that is the call of God.
Will we be parrots? Will we only do what is easy? Or will we be just doers of the word and not just hearers?
I liked your view because it resonates with the comments I see when using twitter: lots of people blowing off steam which is a good thing, but are they actually doing anything positive to change what they don’t like? Deriding people does not change their behaviour, challenging their actions just might. Judge the action not the person because people do good things and they make mistakes. It is not easy to be a champion for justice. It takes patience and a long long time to achieve results. Do not be discouraged but stay the course.
Thanks for the comment. In the end, I hope we can speak fresh words of justice into our world and also live out the justice of God.
I think you have hit the nail on the head. I am also pondering what justice really means having come back from Uganda recently and seeing the extreme poverty of many living in that country. Is justice just pouring money onto situations? Surely there is a deeper underlying problem that needs to be addressed? I don’t have any answers but since I came back I have not stopped thinking about the vast difference in lifestyle between the developing and the developed world. By no means do I consider that the developed world has it all together and that life is inherently better, but haven’t seen people living with no sanitation, very little food, no access to healthcare, certainly makes you grateful for what you do have and wondering what action to take to alleviate the suffering of the poor.
Karen, thanks for commenting. I have been to southern Africa quite a bit, Zambia in particular. There is so much to learn about the journey of faith being with those brothers and sisters, which is so vastly different from what we experience in the west!