As a lawyer, justice is always forefront in my mind.
But even if you don’t practice law, you can see that there is injustice everywhere in our world today. Within our culture, we are inclined to take on an adversarial stance, making every attempt to identify a guilty party, justify those on our side, or oppose any group that seems untrustworthy. Conversely, we may be tempted to wash our hands of the situation completely, like Pontius Pilate, thinking, this has nothing to do with me.
But, as followers of Jesus, we must be willing to courageously take a different path. Biblical justice doesn’t only entail the responsibilities of the government to maintain law and order. Though these concerns are important, biblical justice encompasses much more than punishments; it is also about making things right. True justice is about restoring what is fallen and repairing what is broken—from property to policing, from principles to people.
As we read through the minor prophets, it’s hard not to notice an emphasis on God’s concern for the vulnerable. He consistently calls for his people to enact justice on behalf of those who have been exploited, oppressed, or victimized.
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against one another in your heart.’”
– Zechariah 7:9-10
God’s perfect justice always holds retribution and restoration together. Because of his covenant with Abraham and Moses, he judged Israel for their idolatry and then rescued them from foreign oppressors and their own sin time and again while continually promising a day of complete justice for all people.
That promise was fulfilled in Jesus, who perfected justice on our behalf. He not only atones for our sins, covering the debt that we owe, but through his death and resurrection, also restores us—the Gentile, the Jew, the Samaritan, the leper, the poor, the outcasts—completely to intimate relationship with God. We are transformed into new people who love and serve one another, freed from slavery to sin and able to live life to the fullness that God created for us.
So what is our response to this type of life-altering, eternally transforming love? Is it simply to be thankful and move on? Or is to be transformed into those who will do the same for others? How can we, saved from the justice that we truly deserve and restored to life in Christ, look away when we see people made in the image of God who are victimized, oppressed, or persecuted?
Our values, behavior, relationships, and hopes are all transformed through Christ as we follow him, reflecting his image more closely each day. As citizens in the kingdom of God, we are called to continue his work of restorative justice, setting the world right to reflect the kingdom of God. Jesus, God himself, stepped in to rescue us in our deepest need. In the same way, we must each lend our position, influence, and voice to serve those who are vulnerable or marginalized, offering the love of Christ and acting in selfless sacrifice for the benefit of those around us.
We live in the already/not yet time of history. Jesus is king over all, and yet sin still runs rampant in this world. We grieve together in the midst of injustice, but we also hope in the return of Jesus. As we wait for that day, we are commanded to live and love as his representatives. It is our call, as missionaries of Christ, to do whatever we can to implement justice.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
– John 13:34
Law school taught me all about our country’s adversarial court system, including its benefits and challenges.
As a lawyer, I know our secular justice system is necessary—imperfect and complicated, but necessary. As a Christian though, my ultimate hope is in the justice of God. The justice of God is greater—it is perfect—in both its requirements and promises.
Jesus, by the grace of God, has fulfilled the requirements of justice and fulfills the promise that all things will made right. God is at work, and as his followers, we must also be willing to sacrifice and serve to bring about his restorative, redemptive justice.
Father, help us to be a people who seek justice in your name. Give us the conviction and courage to step into the mess of this world and the injustice around us, and help set it right — to bring your kingdom to earth as it is heaven.