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How Do We Do Justice?

“Justice is the destruction of evil and the flourishing of the cosmos.” – Andy Crouch

The word “Justice” kindles different images for us. For some, justice prompts images of laws, courts, judges and police. For others, justice sketches pictures of comic book heroes defeating bad guys. “Justice is served” when, with swift retribution, criminals are thrown in jail or punished for their crimes.

Some are turned off or simply overwhelmed by justice because of how trendy it has become. From the robust flavors of fair trade coffee, to the shimmering brilliance of conflict-free diamonds, to the stylish and caring concept of TOM’s shoes, we hunger for the next trending issue to capture our time, money, and emotions. However, the moment someone markets something cooler to us, or our favorite celebrity endorses a new “justice issue,” we completely abandon what we cared about so deeply and move on to the next thing.

Our intentions to be just and fair are good. Human desire for a world that is equitable for all is right. However, even the purest of human resolutions are tainted by our brokenness and selfishness. These truncated views of justice emanate from a source that is weak and a source that dries up easily. Our good intentions and desires to act right can only go so far.

The destruction of evil and the flourishing of the cosmos cannot ride on the coattails of trendiness or the good intentions of human beings. True Justice flows through the hearts of human beings, but it is not sourced there. True Justice, like water sourced from a never-ending stream, flows from the heart and character of God. Who is God? God is just, and God does justice at all times!

God is just, and God does justice at all times!

In Jeremiah 9, God has a piercing critique for his people. They claim to know him, but neglect the things he cares about. God is just, and God does justice at all times. The right knowledge of who God is and what God does leads to the proper knowledge of who we are and what God calls us to do. God expects those who follow him to be like him; to strive to be just and act justly in our day-to-day lives.  God is just, and works justice at all times. To truly know God is to delight in his justice, and to boast of it with every fiber of our being.

Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises loving-kindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord. – Jeremiah 9:23-24

God delights in justice because justice flows from his heart and character. The more we know God, the more we will delight in his justice. God desires that our hearts awaken with joy, just like his, when we have opportunities to see evil destroyed and the cosmos flourish.

The more we know God, the more we will delight in his justice.

God’s desire for justice begins and ends with a fountain of steadfast love. The Hebrew word the prophet uses for this is hesed. This faithful love permeates God’s justice and righteousness. Because God is love, his motivations for justice are pure, selfless, and dependable. Justice and righteousness, motivated by sacrificial love never run dry.

Most theologians agree that the terms justice and righteousness are always inextricably linked in scripture. In Tim Keller’s book, Generous Justice, he highlights justice (mishpat) as right actions, and righteousness (tsadeqah) as right relationships. Right actions and right relationships, grounded in love lead to the destruction of evil and the flourishing of the cosmos. All these things flow from who God authentically is and what he constantly accomplishes.

Unlike our justice, God’s justice is always trending, because it is the comprehensive redemption, restoration and reconciliation of all things to himself. God is reconciling people, systems, and the entire cosmos to a state of flourishing. God’s justice creates wholeness and flourishing for all.

That is why we cannot boast in our riches, or wisdom, or strength. Rather, we boast in Jesus Christ. Through Christ and in the power of his Spirit, God blesses us with unimaginable riches, wisdom, and strength to establish his justice and righteousness in the world.

Motivated by love, we work for justice and righteousness in our day-to-day lives.

Jesus is on a mission of reconciling all things to himself, and restoring wholeness and flourishing to the entire cosmos. As his body, the church, we are called to faithfully participate in his mission. Motivated by love, we work for justice and righteousness in our day-to-day lives. When we do this, God’s glory shines through us and we reflect the character of God. In God’s own words, this is what it means to truly know him.

We boast in God’s steadfast love. We boast in God’s righteousness. We boast in God’s justice.


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