Back to Top

A Kingdom for Those Deprived of Justice

In the beginning of his ministry, Jesus tells his early followers who are poor, who weep, and who experience hunger and thirst (for real food or for right relationship) that they are blessed. He doesn’t say those who help the poor are blessed, or those who give to hungry people are blessed. It is not those who are doing outreach or good deeds, but rather, it is those who are experiencing the injustices firsthand who Jesus calls blessed; it is the poor who Jesus says the kingdom of God belongs to.[1]

This is good news to the majority of our world, and the majority of the global Church who fit in these categories, which perhaps is you reading this. But what about those of us who don’t fit in those categories (like those of us who have enough to eat)? How do we experience the kingdom of God when we’re not the main characters? 

Those who were in proximity and friendship were those who “suffered with” (the literal definition of compassion).

In most cases (though often ignored), justice-seeking is done by those giving leadership as people who are affected by the injustice. You could say that they’re the ones who are hungry for righteousness (for things to be made right). In my city, as Indigenous women were being cheated by their “non-profit” housing management, and these very same mothers were having their children being taken away, it was my nitap [2] Chantal who began to speak out and seek justice for her community. In our city’s annual memorial for street-involved folks who have died outside, it was my friend Johnny, a man who had been sleeping outside, who took the mic and preached the best sermon on caring for our neighbours. And, it was my newcomer neighbours (refugees and immigrants) who organized and spoke out about CAPREIT’s refusal to provide heat in their apartments because no one else knew (or would do anything) about the issue.[3]

But sometimes, people come alongside in solidarity. When my city council secretly ordered the police to tear down emergency shelters, those who were pepper sprayed and arrested alongside those living in emergency shelters were mostly from the African Nova Scotian and LGBTQIA2S+ communities in Halifax. Those who were in proximity and friendship were those who “suffered with” (the literal definition of compassion).[4] It’s no surprise to me that the ones who chose to suffer with were those who are familiar with being victims of violence and injustice.

Where are these thin places where heaven meets earth?

The late Archbishop Desmond Tutu would famously invite the South African government to “join the winning side.”[5] He knew that sooner or later Jesus would bring justice, and he was inviting them to be part of that kingdom. Afterall, justice is a necessary ingredient for God’s dream of the reconciliation of all things. Could it be that among those who experience injustice firsthand, Jesus is there, inviting everyone else to come and join this upside-down kingdom that has come and will one day be fully here? And perhaps, could that be the very place, with the poor at the center, where all of us experience the abundant life and community Jesus offers? Where are these thin places where heaven meets earth? Let’s find God, and our true selves, in those places as Jesus sets the feast table of the kingdom among those who face injustice.

1. The gospel according to Luke 6:20-27
2. Nitap means “friend” or “buddy” in the Mi'kmaw language
3. CAPREIT is an example of a REIT (real estate investment trust) which is a well-known business model of maximizing profit at the cost of low-income residents to provide investors with maximum return on investment, often through high-turnover of tenants.
4. Nouwen, Henri. Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life. Image Books, 2006.
5. Tutu, Desmond. God Has a Dream. 
Photos provided by the author.

The Reformed family is a diverse family with a diverse range of opinions. Not all perspectives expressed on the blog represent the official positions of the Christian Reformed Church. Learn more about this blog, Reformed doctrines, and our diversity policy on our About page.

In order to steward ministry shares well, commenting isn’t available on Do Justice itself because we engage with comments and dialogue in other spaces. To comment on this post, please visit the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue’s Facebook page (for Canada-specific articles) or the Office of Social Justice’s Facebook page. Alternatively, please email us. We want to hear from you!

Read more about our comment policy.