Week 10: For the Sake of the World
This week, we look at why and how we are called to make a difference in our world.
Spiritual Practice: Do Justice
The God of the Bible is described as one “who loves justice” (Psalm 99:4), “who enacts justice for orphans and widows, and he loves immigrants” (Deuteronomy 10:18). As such, it is not surprising that God commands the people of Israel — his people, his image-bearers — to be a just people: “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue” (Deuteronomy 16:20, NRSV). In fact, one of the prescribed responsive calls went like this: those leading the gathering would cry out, “Cursed is anyone who withholds justice from the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow.” And all the people would respond with a shouted “Amen!” (Deuteronomy 27:19).
It should be noted that justice is not the same as fairness. Justice is not about God measuring out the same dose of blessing for everyone. In each case that the call for justice is issued, it is on behalf of the marginalized and the vulnerable, those who are most often the victims of injustice, those who most often get churned up in the grind of others’ striving for success. It is often on the backs of the most vulnerable that we build our own security. In the Old Testament, the most vulnerable consisted of the poor, orphans, widows, and immigrants (“the foreigner”), those who had few advocates, if any, for their standing in society.
Through the prophets, God continued to call his people to account when they failed to execute justice for the vulnerable, when they as a people failed to defend and care for the most needy. In the face of empty worship rituals that masked realities of injustice, Isaiah called the people back to God’s heart: “learn to do good. Seek justice: help the oppressed; defend the orphan; plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:17). Micah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel all issued the clarion call of God’s heart for justice, and Amos, in the cry echoed by Martin Luther King, longed for “justice [to] roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24).
It is not enough to believe that God is a just God or to be a part of a church community that espouses justice as one of its values. We are all called to “do justice,” to “act justly” (Micah 6:8). But what does that mean and what does that look like? This week, we will take time to dig in.
Verse of the Week: Micah 6:8
He has told you, human one,
what is good and what the LORD requires from you:
to do justice, embrace faithful love,
and walk humbly with your God.