Biblical justice involves making individuals, communities, and the cosmos whole, by upholding both goodness and impartiality. It stands at the center of true religion, according to James, who says that the kind of "religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (James 1:27). Earlier Scripture says, "The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern" (Prov. 29:7).

Justice flows from God's heart and character. As true and good, God seeks to make the object of his holy love whole. This is what motivates God throughout the Old and New Testaments in his judgments on sin and injustice. These judgments are both individual and corporate in scope.

One of the greatest injustices we succumb to individually is self-righteousness—the belief that we do not need Jesus but are just and good and right apart from him. We can fail to see that Jesus is the righteous "judge judged in our place" (Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics) for our own acts of injustice, including our marginalizing him by refusing to sense our need for him to remove our sin and make us whole.

Only as we despair of ourselves and cling to Jesus can we participate in his work of restoring lives, the church, and the world by the Spirit of the Lord. We, the church, are to live now in light of Jesus' restoration of all things.

As we experience the wholeness that Jesus offers, we are to carry his justice forward in the world. We sense God's heart for this in James' epistle. James, like an Old Testament prophet, denounced oppression toward the poor. He saw church leaders favoring the rich and looking down on those less fortunate ...

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Summer 2010: Justice & Evangelism  | Posted
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