Does Seeking Justice Take Us Away from Seeking Jesus?

For many years now I have been coming to terms with God’s call to seek justice: how he calls us, through the power of Jesus Christ living in us, to set things right in his world.

Jesus has given his church the mandate not only to proclaim who he is, but to embody his character and Kingdom on earth.

He calls us to do whatever we can in to see that life, our relationships, our communities, our workplaces, and the systems that support it all reflect something of what God would want our world to be.

It’s huge, right?

It’s also really hard for many Christians to grasp how seeking justice connects with the core of the Christian faith.

I remember some years ago when I was pastoring in Western Australia, I was hoping one of the leaders in the church would become the point person to see our church take a lead in becoming a more just church in our community. I had given my friend a copy of Jim Martin’s excellent book, The Just Church. Martin’s book gives a helpful overview of some of the powerful justice themes in Scripture, and provides a helpful template for churches to implement justice ministries in their own neighbourhood. So, yes, I’d given this person a copy and was keen to hear what they thought of it.

Their repsonse? “Hey, I like the idea of the church being more just, but I just don’t see how seeking justice connects with the Gospel.”

Their comment left me wondering whether my friend actually understood what biblical justice was (had they even read the book?), and also whether there was a clear understandning of what the Gospel actually was. I don’t want to be harsh, but when I see the mission and ministry of Jesus in Scripture, it’s obvious that Jesus knew justice was central to his mission. More to come on that…

But for now, I’m thankful that Timothy Keller’s excellent book “Generous Justice” reveals show how closely Jesus’ ministry was interwoven with justice.

And just so we know: the justice I am referring to is the making right of things that are wrong, the repair and restoration of what is broken, and not just the forensic sense of the justice of God enacted in Christ’s death. You cannot separate the mission and ministry of Jesus with the pursuit of justice. Keller observes:

“At first glance, no two things can seem more opposed than grace and justice. Grace is giving benefits that are not deserved, while justice is giving people exactly what they do deserve. In Christ we receive grace, unmerited favour. Nevertheless, in the mind of the Old Testament prophets as well as the teaching of Jesus, an encounter with grace inevitably leads to a life of justice.”

Timothy Keller, Generous Justice, p.49

Did you catch that?

“An encounter with grace inevitably leads to a life of justice.”

That word “inevitably” should give us pause.

In a coming post I’ll look at what “seeking justice” is. But for now I just want to say that seeking biblical justice does not take us away from Jesus, it leads us deeper into him. Seeking biblical justice does not take us away from the Gospel, it gives us a deeper understanding of what the Gospel is.

seeking biblical justice does not take us away from Jesus, it leads us deeper into him

Here’s the question: if seeking justice is core to seeking Jesus, how come seeking justice does not appear to be a core part of the mission and ministry of many churches today?

Maybe, for many churches, biblical justice has somehow ended up in their blind spot. They’re just not aware of how rich and how powerfully the Scriptures teach about this. They seem to have missed how central biblical justice is to Jesus, his death and resurrection, and the mission he has given to his church.

What do you think?

…feel free to leave a comment

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