Is Justice Worth It? feat. Micah Bournes from World Relief on Vimeo.
At the 2013 Justice Conference in Philadelphia, Nicholas Wolterstorf said what ignited his fierce passion for justice was coming face-to-face with victims of injustice. Two encounters in particular changed everything for him: first, a meeting with South African blacks during Apartheid and the second with Christian Palestinians. He sensed it as a call from God and believed he would be disobedient to excuse himself by saying their suffering wasn’t his business.
I could relate. My own awakening to my call to justice started with similar encounters. At first, mine happened in books—more than one. But Half the Sky hit me with a force that became a point of no return. Real faces came next. I am haunted by the memory of scantily clad girls walking the cold night streets of Zurich; a young blond girl in the Amsterdam airport; an Asian girl—still a child—in Lyon, France. Then I had a conversation over coffee with two young American women who were trafficking survivors. Faces of all those women are seared into my memory. They keep my passion for justice alive.
Yet as powerfully disturbing and impossible to shake as those memories are, faces alone aren’t enough. It’s just too easy to get swallowed up in whatever pressing matter happens to be on my plate for today. Which is why this video, strong as it is, doesn’t go far enough.
Wolterstorf and Half the Church give deeper reasons for our call to justice. It’s hard to escape what God asks of me and why justice should remain high on my radar when the God I’m called to represent is a God of justice.
“For the LORD is a God of justice” (Isa 30:18); “The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed … the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy” (Psalm 103:6; 140:12).
Hard to escape what it means to follow Jesus when I observe how he reached out to the poor, the hungry, the marginalized, and the suffering and I witness his heart for justice.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).
The roots of social justice run deep—deep into the human soul’s ability to be moved with compassion for the suffering and with indignation over evil; deep into God’s heart for justice in his world, and central to Jesus’ mission in “reconciling all things to himself.”
Christian critics and skeptics question the church’s renewed commitment to social justice. They may challenge the notion that social justice is the necessary outworking of Jesus’ Gospel. They may predict (and I’ve heard them do this) that social justice is just another passing fad, that the current enthusiasm for social justice in evangelical circles will eventually run its course. The church will lose interest and move on to whatever new big idea comes next.
I pray we prove them wrong and that one day they’ll find themselves joining us in this Kingdom battle.